The Hikone Screen

The Hikone Screen
Six-panel folding screen, color on gilded paper; height 94.0 cm, width 271.0 cm; Edo period, l7th century; National Treasure; Gift of the Ii Family

This well-known screen, thought to have been produced sometime during the period from the 1620s to the 1640s, appears to be set in the pleasure quarters of Kyoto of that time. The figures, in carefully calculated positions and poses set off by the folds of the screen, seem to be closely related. The minute details of the hairstyles, facial expressions, clothing fabric and objects give the scene a lively immediacy. The work is unsigned, but the use of authentic Chinese painting techniques in the landscape screen within the screen, as well as in the prototypical depictions of the human figures, suggest that the artist was a skillful painter of the Kanō school lineage.

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