Pair of six-panel folding screens ink; color gold and silver on gilded paper
Each 59 1/4 in. x 10 ft. 10 3/4 in. (150.5 x 332 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Mrs. Dunbar W. Bostwick, John C. Wilmderding, J. Watson Webb Jr., Harry H. Webb, and Samuel B. Webb, 1962 (62.36.2–3)
In general, screens of the "whose sleeves?" genre represent clothing styles as imagined by an artist and, even if accurately depicted, the stylistic period of the textiles in the painting may not be synchronous with the screens' production date. Thus, precise dating of the screens and the textiles is complex. Paintings yield specific yet limited information about textiles. The process of rendering a three-dimensional physical garment on a two-dimensional painted surface masks technical information about fiber content, weave structure, garment construction, and dyeing techniques; vital information to a historian attempting to date an actual textile.
In the case of the Museum's screens, however, the garments represented in this pair of screen paintings appear to reflect clothing trends of the late sixteenth through the early seventeenth century. In its colors and design, the painted garment on the right-hand screen at the far right of the upper rack resembles a sixteenth-century fragment that was formerly a part of a garment owned by Yododono (1567–1615), the favored consort of the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598). The dynamic design of the once vibrantly colored fragment from Yododono's garment featured a meandering stream of willows separating cloud-shaped forms into distinct design spaces. On both that fragment and the garment shown in the Museum's screen, the cloud-shaped forms encase a lattice pattern made up of dark lines. The garment to the far left on the upper rack of the bamboo stand in the painted screen probably belonged to a child. In her memorial portrait, the four-year-old Ichihime (1607–1610), daughter of the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616), wears a similarly designed garment, with decorated shoulder and hem areas, a red midsection, and sashes that wrap around the body. The folded garment on the floor to the left of the clothing stand has a midsection composed of a variety of trapezoid-shaped fabrics arranged in a lattice-pattern patchwork design. The patterns of the textiles and their disposition resemble those of an overcoat owned by Uesugi Kenshin (1530–1578), one of the famous military personalities of the sixteenth century. The sleeves and hem peeking out from beneath the patchwork garment are decorated in the katasuso (shoulder-and-hem) style, a fashionable mode in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The katasuso garment is decorated with chrysanthemum and paulownia motifs, a combination strongly associated with the Toyotomi clan during the sixteenth century. Gold and silver chrysanthemums also appear on the black lacquered rack in the left-hand screen of the pair.