Future National Treasures: Masterpieces of Painting and Calligraphy from the Museum Collection
Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 2 : May 10, 2022 (Tue) - June 5, 2022 (Sun)
Tokyo National Museum is celebrating its 150th anniversary. During its long history, the Museum accumulated an extensive collection, including many artworks of great artistic or historical value. Not all these works, however, are designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. From among these works, our curators have selected what they consider "Future National Treasures" for display in this gallery in 2022.
By Uemura Shōen
Taishō era, 1918
This work is inspired by The Tale of Genji, an 11th-century novel about romance and loss at the imperial court. It shows Lady Rokujō, a mistress of the novel' s protagonist, after she was driven mad with jealousy and became a vengeful ghost. She stoops over in anguish and gnaws on her disheveled hair, the spiderwebs and wildly blooming wisteria flowers on her kimono reflecting her shattered mind.
The artist, Uemura Shōen (1875–1949), was born in Kyoto and became a leading painter of nihonga (literally "painting of Japan"), a genre rooted in traditional techniques and subject matter. She won many awards and was the first female recipient of the prestigious Order of Culture, conferred by the emperor of Japan. Shōen usually imbued her paintings of women with a cheerful elegance, making this work a startling exception.