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Booklet of “A Boat Cast Adrift” (Ukifune)

Unidentified artist

Not on view

This is the oldest example of an illustrated Genji book. It contains two exquisite “ink-line” (hakubyō) paintings, prized for the graphic interplay of the white paper, meticulously drawn lines, and glossy dark patches of ink. Although they date to the thirteenth century, these images retain hallmarks of Heian-period narrative painting, such as the plump, rounded faces and the bushy eyebrows drawn with multiple thin lines.

Here, Ukifune reads a letter from Kaoru reproaching her for being unfaithful to him with Niou. Finding herself entangled in a love triangle, she nervously faces her inkstone and brush as she considers how to reply.

On view from March 4–April 14, 2019.

Booklet of “A Boat Cast Adrift” (Ukifune), Unidentified artist, Thread-bound book; ink on paper, Japan

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