The Tale of Genji

Attributed to Kaihō Yūsetsu Japanese

Not on view

These handscrolls, representing all fifty-four chapters from Murasaki Shikibu’s literary masterpiece, have been attributed to Yūsetsu, son of ink-painting master Kaihō Yūshō (1535–1615), and twenty-seven calligraphers. The painted scenes, with their skillful brushwork, occasional touches of gold and silver, and distinctive landscape elements, exhibit some similarities to other works associated with Yūsetsu. One scene, for Chapter Forty-five, was executed by a different, less skilled artist, perhaps an apprentice.

Although descended from a samurai family, Yūsetsu, who lost his father while young, is known to have operated a shop selling ready-made pictures. His fortunes improved following his introduction to third Tokugawa shogun Iemitsu (1605–1651), and artists of the Kano school; this led to commissions from courtiers and the shogun himself.

[Conservation of The Tale of Genji handscrolls was made possible by a generous grant from the Sumitomo Foundation, Tokyo, to the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation.]

The Tale of Genji, Attributed to Kaihō Yūsetsu (Japanese, 1598–1677), Set of two handscrolls; ink and color on paper, Japan

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