Folktale of an old man, a woman and a sparrow

Robert Muller Catalog Card, glued to the back (original source not noted): “…In Kiyochika’s painting, the greedy old woman looks up in astonishment at the monster that has burst out of the wicker box strapped to her back — a Westerner in a bowler hat! The eye in the center of the forehead is rendered in a style reserved for traditional Japanese monsters, identifying the type as a “little three-eye” (mitsume kozo). Inside the box we can see another monster-eye peering out. In her fright, the woman has slipped out of one of her straw sandals and dropped her hand lantern, which bursts into flame. The characters on the lantern read “Suzumeya” (The Sparrow), referring to the sparrow’s residence from which she is returning.”

Scroll contained in modern cardboard box with lid.

Maker(s)
Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika 小林清親 (1847-1915)
Historical period(s)
mid 19th-early 20th century
Medium
Ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (image): 113.9 x 30.5 cm (44 13/16 x 12 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase from the Estate of Robert O. Muller with funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Harold P. Stern Memorial Fund
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F2004.11
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
Japan, kakemono, man, woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Robert Muller Catalog Card, glued to the back (original source not noted): "...In Kiyochika's painting, the greedy old woman looks up in astonishment at the monster that has burst out of the wicker box strapped to her back -- a Westerner in a bowler hat! The eye in the center of the forehead is rendered in a style reserved for traditional Japanese monsters, identifying the type as a "little three-eye" (mitsume kozo). Inside the box we can see another monster-eye peering out. In her fright, the woman has slipped out of one of her straw sandals and dropped her hand lantern, which bursts into flame. The characters on the lantern read "Suzumeya" (The Sparrow), referring to the sparrow's residence from which she is returning."

Scroll contained in modern cardboard box with lid.

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

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.