“The Oak Tree”

Tosa Mitsuyoshi Japanese

Not on view

This scene from Chapter 36 of The Tale of Genji shows Tō no Chūjō conferring with an ascetic summoned to heal his ailing son, Kashiwagi, lying in the adjacent room. Unbeknownst to them, Kashiwagi’s illness derives from remorse over his illicit affair with Genji’s wife, the Third Princess. This delicate image bears hallmarks of works by Tosa Mitsuyoshi. Many of the small-scale Genji paintings from the Muromachi period (1392–1573) through the early Edo period (1615–1868) were executed by painters of the hereditary Tosa school, who monopolized the court-sanctioned position of painting bureau director. In the late sixteenth century, Tosa artists transformed Genji pictures from intimate paintings to large-scale works. In the Momoyama period, maki-e artists also used Tosa and Kano paintings to draw inspiration for their compositions depicted on export lacquers.

“The Oak Tree”, Tosa Mitsuyoshi (Japanese, 1539–1613), Album leaf mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on paper, Japan

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