Attributed to Kano Tsunenobu (Japanese, 1636–1713)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
35 3/4 x 13 in. (90.8 x 33 cm)
The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936
Not on view
Academic painters in the Edo period also sought to represent beauties in their paintings, but drew on a continental figure painting tradition instead of using the demimond directly as their subject. Yang Guifei, ill-fated concubine of the Tang emperor at the time of the An Lushan rebellion and most likely first known through a poem by Bai Luodian (772–846), was a metaphor for womanly beauty from very early times. There are references to her in the eleventh-century Tale of Genji [Genji Monogatari] and in the slightly earlier Pillow Book [Makura sōshi]. By the seventeenth century, her perosnification of fleshly beauty was so pervasive it was used to sell skin-whitening cream, a product described in a short vignette in The Mirror of Townsmen in our Land [Honcho chōnin kagami], a collection of merchant tales written by the novelist Saikaku (1642–1693) and published a year after his death.
Signature: Tsunenobu hitsu; Seal: Tsunenobu
Howard Mansfield , New York (until 1936; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Kodai-ji Lacquer," 1995.