Tale of Genji

UnknownMomoyama period, late 16th-early 17th century

Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts

Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts
Osaka, Japan

Imagery from the Heian period novel the Tale of Genji is one of the most common motifs in Japanese art, and during the Momoyama period, artists would often enlarge a specific scene from the tale and depict it in a large-scale format, such as these folding screens. This screen depicts the scene of Prince Hikaru Genji’s birth from the first chapter of the novel, Kiritsubo . Here the emperor is depicted in the second panel of the screen, seated on a tatami mat with a decorated edge. Kiritsubo is placed next to him, while the maid in the foreground holds the infant Hikaru Genji. The expression of the figures, the hair of the women and the forms of the trees all suggest similarities with the Tale of Genji screens attributed to Kano Eitoku today in the Sannomaru Shozokan Museum of the Imperial Collections.


  • Title: Tale of Genji
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Momoyama period, late 16th-early 17th century
  • Location Created: Japan
  • Title(Japanese): 源氏物語図
  • Physical Dimensions: w343.2 x h124 cm
  • Period(Japanese): 桃山 16世紀後半-17世紀初期
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Color with gold ground on paper

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