Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Rooms T1 & T2
October 18, 2016 (Tue) - November 27, 2016 (Sun)
Exceptionally talented waka poets were revered as “immortal poets,” and were depicted with their poems in yamato-e Japanese-style paintings. Examples represented in paintings include The Thirty-Six Immortal Poets, selected by Fujiwara no Kinto (966–1041) in the mid-Heian period (10th–11th century), and the Poetry Contest between Poets of Different Periods, compiled by the cloistered emperor Gotoba (1180–1239) in the early Kamakura period (12th–13th century). Throughout the medieval and pre-modern times, paintings featuring depictions of the immortal poets were created and cherished.
Portraits of classical poets have their beginnings at the end of the Heian period (12th century). The first poet to be depicted in this style was Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (?–ca. 708). In the following Kamakura period, the genre adopted the nise-e style of portrait painting, which evolved at the time, and came to be produced and appreciated widely among people who practiced waka poems.
This exhibit overviews the establishment and development of immortal poet paintings, with its origins in waka poems, the fundamental element of courtly culture. Features include the entire collection of medieval immortal poet paintings from the Tokyo National Museum, and additional contributions from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Kyoto National Museum, Kyushu National Museum, and the Okura Museum of Art, as well as private collections. Portraits of Thirty-Six Immortal Poets (Satake version), is the most prominent of the genre, which is on view together with many varieties of the immortal poets. We hope visitors favor the rich and unique world of immortal poet paintings from the medieval times.