A Private Puppet Performance

Artist: Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686-1764)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 18th century
Color on paper
H x W: 54.5 x 92.8 cm (21 7/16 x 36 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, music, puppetry, shamisen, uki-e, ukiyo-e

To 1902
Bunshichi Kobayashi (circa 1861-1923), Boston, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Yokohama, to 1902 [1]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunshichi Kobayashi in 1902 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Panel List, L. 18, pg. 4, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Kobayashi Bunshichi (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1861-1923


A large private residence is the setting for this performance by itinerant puppeteers. Chanters and a musician provide vocal and musical accompaniment for the puppeteer. To the left, behind a shoji (sliding paper-covered screen) are additional puppets. The single figure in the right foreground is probably a narrator. Women of the household enjoy the performance discreetly from behind bamboo screens. The artist Masanobu incorporated principles of European perspective into this picture. Uki-e, or perspective pictures, were a specialty of this artist, who created both paintings and prints in the new style.

Published References
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 37, pp. 90-91.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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