Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Beauty Playing a Shamisen

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
second quarter of the 17th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Remounted section of a screen; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 24 7/16 x 29 1/8 in. (62.1 x 74 cm)
Overall with mounting: 66 3/4 x 29 15/16 in. (169.5 x 76 cm)
Overall with rollers: 66 3/4 x 32 3/8 in. (169.5 x 82.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.455
Not on view
At one time part of a larger composition, perhaps of outdoor merrymaking, this image of a woman plucking a samisen captures the pathos that underlies a scene of pleasure. The three-stringed lute, adapted from an instrument imported from the Ryūkū Islands in the mid-sixteenth century, was associated with the Edo-period world of pleasure quarters and theater.

Although the work is badly damaged, the delicate drawing—especially the hands, face, and hair—admirably conveys emotion and character. Both the drawing and the style of the hair and robe point to the second quarter of the seventeenth century, when entertainers were portrayed in genre scenes, prior to the emergence of isolated images of beauties in the late seventeenth century.
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Noh Robes," 1993.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Kodai-ji Lacquer," 1995.

Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu. "Oribe, iwayuru Oribeizumu ni tsuite: Gifuken Bijutsukan kaikan 15-shūnen kinenten," October 17, 1997–December 7, 1997.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Blossoms of Many Colors: A Selection from the Permanent Collection of Japanese Art," March 21, 2000–August 9, 2000.

Milan. Palazzo Reale. "Ukiyoe. II mondo fluttuante," February 7, 2004–May 30, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human Figure in Japanese Art," 2007–2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ukiyo-e Artists' Responses to Romantic Legends of Two Brothers: Narihira and Yukihira," March 27, 2008–June 8, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Beautiful Country: Yamato-e in Japanese Art," November 20, 2010–June 5, 2011.

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