Golden Fantasies: Japanese Screens from New York Collections
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Scenes from the Tale of Genji
Edo period (1615–1868), late 17th century
Pair of six-panel screens; ink, color, and gold on paper
The Mary and Jackson Burke Collection
Cat. no. 2

The Tale of Genji is probably the most famous work of Japanese literature, telling the story of the aristocratic Genji, and of his grandson Niou and his stepson Kaoru. These screens adopt a common narrative approach to depicting the story by showing one representative scene for each of the fifty-four chapters, starting at the top right of the right screen and continuing down and to the left. Among others, they include the famous scenes of the skirmish between the carriages (right screen: second panel from right), the escaping cat that reveals the Third Princess (left screen: second panel from right) and Uji (left screen: sixth panel from right). Rather than portraying the stiff figures of convention, this work is characterized by the tender, or even erotic, mood of the encounters between men and women.

The screens will be rotated on April 6, 2004 First rotationSecond rotation