Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and gold on paper
Image (each): 59 5/8 in. x 11 ft. 6 5/8 in. (151.4 x 352.1 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1998
Not on view
Watery ink and small gold flecks sprinkled among valleys and mist create a luminous night scene under a hazy moon. The gentleman riding in the boat on the right screen is the famous Tang Chinese poet Li Bo (701–762), who was inspired by moonlit Mount Emei in Sichuan to compose a poem:
The autumn moon is half round above the Emei Mountain; Its pale light falls in and flows with the water of the Pingqiang River. Tonight I leave Qingxi of the limpid stream for the Three Gorges, And glide down past Yuzhou, thinking of you whom I cannot see.
Four years later, Li Bo returned to the area and composed a longer poem. In Japan, the two poems became particularly famous. Shiokawa Bunrin's training was in the realist school of Shijō , but he was also familiar with the aesthetics of the nanga, or bunjinga, literati school. These screens exhibit Bunrin's knowledge of Western perspective, especially inthe treatment of the valley stream. A document accompanying the screens, written by Bunrin himself and dated to 1875, suggests that the pair was painted shortly before
Signature: On the left-hand screen is the artist's signature: "Bunrei sei" and two of his seals: 1) "Sio Bunrin in;" and 2) "Onshi." On the right-hand screen are the same two seals and a longer inscription: "Sensei Tosai Shio Bunrin sha."
Inscription: Dated 1875 on the box containing the screens
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: A Decade of Collecting Japanese Art," September 29, 2001–March 10, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Autumn and Winter," June 22, 2006–September 10, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: Two Decades of Collecting Japanese Art," 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Drama of Eyes and Hands: Sharaku's Portraits of Kabuki Actors," September 20, 2007–March 24, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.