An image of Episode from 'The bluebell', Chapter 20 of the 'Tale of Genji'

TOSA Mitsuoki

(Japan 1617 – 1691)

Episode from 'The bluebell', Chapter 20 of the 'Tale of Genji'

Other titles:
Scene from 'Asagao' (The Morning Glory), Chapter 20 of the 'Tale of Genji'
Location
Not on display
Further information

This delicately painted hanging scroll illustrates a key episode of Chapter 20. Word of Genji’s flirtations with Princess Asagao (‘Bluebell’) has reached Murasaki. Genji tries to placate her by sending her page girls out into the garden to play in the snow. Mitsuoki has depicted this scene from a bird’s-eye view, giving a sense of distance from the figures which, combined with the supporting beam that separates them, evokes the emotional distance between Genji and Murasaki. He turns toward her, one hand poised hesitantly as if unsure of how to comfort his love, who remains downcast despite his conciliatory efforts. Close inspection reveals superb attention to detail, as demonstrated by the minutely painted mandarin ducks, an ironic evocation of marital fidelity, and the cracked ice on the surface of the nearby pond.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW.

Place of origin
Japan
Year
circa 1650-1700
Media
Painting
Medium
hanging scroll; ink and colour on silk
Dimensions
39.6 x 86.2 cm
Credit
Purchased 2004
Accession number
223.2004