Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms

Kano NaganobuEdo period, 17th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

This pair of screens depicts a scene of cherry-blossom viewing. The left-hand screen features a young nobleman watching colorfully dressed men and women dancing from the veranda of a temple. The two center panels of the right-hand screen were destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. They depicted two noble ladies in luxurious robes, seated on mats and enjoying music under a blossoming cherry tree, as shown in the photograph below.
The subdued colors of the surrounding motifs, such as the building and the distant landscape, are painted on a plain paper background without gold, which enhances the colorful splendor of the party scene. The partygoers are visible through the thin curtains which surround the site, originally executed in silver paint which has since turned black.
These figures, and the motifs on their garments in particular, have been precisely depicted. A close look at their facial features reveals that their eyes have been carefully outlined, and white pigment has been applied to their corners to make them more vivid. Their movements, such as hand-clapping and the tapping of their feet to the rhythm, is likewise accurately expressed. With superb skill, the artist Kano Naganobu has created a lively scene from which we can almost hear the merry music.
Kano Naganobu was a younger brother of Kano Eitoku (1543-1590), a great master of the Kano school and one of the most famous painters of the early modern age (1573-1868). Although there are barely any surviving works known to be by Naganobu, through this pair of screens alone he is recognized as being one of the representative artists of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603).


  • Title: Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms
  • Creator: Kano Naganobu
  • Creator Lifespan: 1577 - 1654
  • Date Created: Edo period, 17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w355.8 x h148.6 cm (Each)
  • Object Title: 花下遊楽図屏風
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 観桜の情景が描かれた屏風で、左隻ではお堂の縁で貴公子が座り、着飾った男女が踊る様子を見物している。右隻では高貴な女性たちが桜の木の下で音曲を楽しむ。右隻中央の二扇は関東大震災によって失われてしまったが、もとは毛氈を敷いて座る二人の貴婦人たちが描かれていた。 金箔ではなく、紙の素地の上に山水や建物を地味な配色で描くことで、かえって遊楽の光景が華やかさを増している。遊宴を囲む幔幕は銀泥であらわされ黒化してしまっているが、幕の内側も透かして描写されている。 登場人物たちは極めて精緻に描かれていて、着物の柄などは細かく丹念に描写されている。人々の表情をみると目頭や目尻には胡粉をおき、さらにアイラインを引いて引き締められている。手拍子を打つものや、足袋の裏をみせて、リズムを取るものなど動きのある表現も的確にあらわされている。遊宴の音曲も聞こえてくるような生命感溢れる画面が高い画技によって生み出されているのである。 筆者である長信は、狩野永徳の弟で、彼の作品として知られているものはほとんどないが、この一作だけで安土桃山時代から江戸時代初期を代表する絵師の一人としてその名を留めている。
  • Object Date: 江戸時代・17世紀
  • Medium(Japanese): 紙本着色
  • Artist Name: 狩野長信筆
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100159
  • Medium: Color on paper

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