Fans and clouds over rocks and water

Calligrapher: Hon'ami Kōetsu 本阿弥光悦 (1558-1637)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 17th century
Ink, color, gold, and silver on paper
H x W (each): 171.2 x 382.2 cm (67 3/8 x 150 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screens (six-panel)

Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan, water
Provenance research underway.

Fans decorated with painting and calligraphy are mounted on this painted screen to create the illusion that they are scattered across a silver river.  The silver has darkened over time to a nearly black tone. Screens of this type were inspired by the story of a prince and his retinue crossing a bridge in Kyoto.  When the prince tossed his fan into the river, the sight was so beautiful that his companions followed suit, tossing their fans and remarking at their beauty as they fluttered toward the water.

Many screens mounted with painted fans were produced by the Tawaraya atelier headed by the painter Sotatsu. The paintings on the fans and on these screens reflect the distinctive compositions and style associated with Sotatsu and his workshop. For example, the shape, vivid colors, and soft delineation of the rock forms are comparable to the islands in Sotatsu's Waves at Matsushima screens.   Eleven of the fans are inscribe with poems in the elegant calligraphic style of Koetsu, whose large, square seal also appears on some of the fans. A master calligrapher and artistic leader, Koetsu often collaborated with Sotatsu on projects combining painting and calligraphy.

Published References
  • Helen Nebeker Tomlinson. West Meets East: Charles L. Freer Trailblazing Asian Art Collector. Herndon, Virginia. Insert p. 11.
  • Yoshiaki Shimizu. An Individual Taste for Japanese Painting. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 136-149, fig. 8.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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