Fans on a Stream in a Landscape (Ogi nagashi byôbu)

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Japanese (Noto Province active Noto Province, ? - 1643?, Kaga Province Kaga Province)
Fans on a Stream in a Landscape (Ogi nagashi byôbu), Mid Edo period, 18th century
Transliterated Title: Ogi nagashi byôbu
, Screen
18th century
Edo period, Middle, 1704-1789
Creation Place: Japan
Six-panel folding screen; ink, colors and gold- and silver-leaf on paper
H.155.9 x W. 348.4 cm (61 3/8 x 137 3/16 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for the Acquisition of Oriental Art
, 1995.822
This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. Please contact the curatorial department listed above for more information.
This six-panel screen depicts a scene in which a variety of folding fans fall into a stream, the fully decorated fans appearing against the gold and now-tarnished silver background. A wide range of subjects--flowers, figures, animals, waves, and abstract designs--are depicted on the fans; a scene from the Ukifune chapter of the 'Tale of Genji' appears on one fan, for example, while another, at the screen's right edge, shows the moon rising over autumn grasses, the same subject that embellishes the covers of the lacquer boxes nearby. The total effect is one of astonishing brilliance and visual appeal.
Painted by a Rimpa artist, this screen represents a type termed "ogi nagashi byobu" in Japanese, that is, "a screen with floating fans." The type originated in the Muromachi period (1393-1602), when it soared in popularity. Although the oldest extant floating-fan screen was painted in the sixteenth century, literary sources record its existence a hundred years earlier.The inspiration for the subject is said to be a tale in which a breeze whisked a fan from the hand of a person crossing the Tôgetsukyô Bridge at Arashiyama, in Kyoto, and dashed it into the river below; charmed by the sight of waves bearing a fan, passersby tossed their own fans into the river to enlarge the scene.The folding fan's lunette shape had long attracted the attention of painters, who found it a challenge to create a composition appropriate to the shape. Although many earlier artists had decorated fans with attractive designs, Sôtatsu (active, late 16th-first half 17th century), the initiator of the Rimpa style, vitalized painting on fan-shaped surfaces by employing a wide array of subjects and by arranging them in witty compositions. The fan shape subsequently became a favored format of Rimpa-school painters.
Exhibition History
Art of the Fan: China, Korea, Japan, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/15/1995 - 10/08/1995
Re-View: S228-230 (Asian rotation: 7) Art of the Fan: China, Korea, Japan, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/18/2011 - 05/05/2012