Poems by Thirty-Six Immortal Poets

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Artist: Hon'ami Kōetsu 本阿弥光悦 (1558-1637)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 17th century
Album leaves; ink, gold, and mica on paper
H x W: 12 x 10.7 cm (4 3/4 x 4 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Calligraphy


Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Verses by each of thirty-six master poets are inscribed on decorated sheets mounted in a folding album. Each leaf is hand painted with a different design in gold on a shimmering mica-coated background. Over these designs the calligrapher Koetsu, whose work was greatly admired by Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), has written famous verses. His distinctive calligraphic style, combining fluidity with strong control of composition and internal structure, is apparent in this work. The slight tremulous brushwork indicates that this album was created late in Koetsu's life.

A poem composed by Mibu no Tadamine (died ca. 920) is inscribed over the design of rocks among waves:

As the years pass, the white mountains grow older
gathering the snow of many winters.

Published References
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 118.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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