Artist: Fuka'e Roshu (1699-1757)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, eighteenth century
Ink on cat skin
H x W (overall): 27.3 x 16.8 cm (10 3/4 x 6 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Willard G. Clark
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


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

The samisen, a three-stringed instrument with a long neck and squarish sound box, was generally used in theaters and urban pleasure quarters during the Edo period (1615-1868). The instrument was made from red sandalwood, mulberry, or quince, and the head, or box, portion was covered front and back with cat or dog skin. Seen here is a fragment of cat skin decorated with the silhouetted form of a plum branch.

Roshu, a Kyoto native, is thought to have studied painting with Ogata Korin (1658-1716). While Roshu's best-known paintings are boldly colored screens related to classical Japanese literature, this delicate painting is a reminder that artists undertook commissions and also had contact with the world of professional entertainers. This image bears both the signature and seal of the artist.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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