Utatane Monogatari (The Tale of Utatane)

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Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, 1392-1568
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 16.2 x 1108.8 cm (6 3/8 x 436 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


boat, garden, go, Japan, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), The Tale of Utatane, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Yamanaka and Co.


This painting is executed in a technique called hakubyoga (white drawing), which combines light, wirelike lines and solid black accents with occasional touches of red or gold. Hakubyoga was initially used in the mid-thirteenth century to illustrate tales of courtly romance. The form may have developed as a recognition of the inherent beauty of outline drawings to which polychrome pigment was then applied. This "incomplete" stage was adapted and refined to a distinct representational method. The variations of black and subtle hints of color effectively suggest the delicate currents of emotion underlying the repetitive formality of court life.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho (Japanese Art : Selections from Western Collections). 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. pl. 30.
  • Great Drawings of All Time. 4 vols., New York. .
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 152 a, b.
  • Charles Franklin Sayre. Japanese Court-Style Narrative Painting of the Late Middle Ages. vol. 35 New York and Honolulu, HI. p. 79, fig. 14.
  • Zaigai hiho (Japanese Paintings in Western Collections). 3 vols., Tokyo. p. 92, pl. 67.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 107.
  • Crossing the Sea: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Yoshiaki Shimizu. Princeton. p. 118, fig. 14.
  • Melissa McCormick. Tosa Mitsunobu and the Small Scroll in Medieval Japan. Seattle and London. pp. 127, 132, fig. 60.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 74, p. 174.
  • Narasaki Muneshige. On the Picture Scrolls of the Utatane-zoshi. no. 756 Tokyo, September 1957. pp. 275-281, pl. 2.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum