Scenes from the life of the Ming Huang Emperor and Yang Guifei (one of a pair with F1901.21)

Artist: Kano Mitsunobu (ca. 1565-1608)
Historical period(s)
Momoyama period, late 16th-early 17th century
Ink, color and gold on paper
H x W: 173.6 x 381.8 cm (68 3/8 x 150 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screen (six-panel)

concubine, emperor, Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615)

To 1901
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908), New York, NY, and Spring Hill, AL, to 1901 [1]

From 1901 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ernest Francisco Fenollosa in 1901 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Screen List, S.I 42, L. 48, pg. 10, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (C.L. Freer source) 1853-1908
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


The scenes on these screens are based on a Chinese poem, "Song of Everlasting Sorrow," by Bo Juyi (772-846). The poem, which tells the tragic story of Tang dynasty emperor Ming Huang (Xuanzong) and his love for his concubine Yang Guifei, was known in Japan since the tenth century. The story is told in episodes beginning in the lower right corner of the left screen and moving in a circular, counterclockwise direction.  At the top of the left screen, a party is held as the An Lushan rebellion begins; Yang Guifei perished in the uprising. In the upper right of the right screen, the emperor is alone after the uprising ends.

Published References
  • Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts: Japanese Art at the Time of the Samurai. vol. 88, no. 1/4 Detroit. .
  • Genshoku Nihon no Bijutsu [A Kaleidoscope of Japanese Art]. 30 vols., Tokyo, 1966-1980. vol. 27: pls. 72-73.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 4: pp. 127-128, pls. 29-30.
  • Takeda Tsuneo. Kinsei shoki shoheiga no kenkyu [Studies in Japanese shoheiga of the 16th and 17th Centuries]. Showa 58 2 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2: p. 60.
  • Keiko Kawamoto. Nihon byobue shusei. 18 vols., Tokyo, 1977-1982. vol. 4: pp. 152-158, pl. 71.
  • Ellen P. Conant. Perspectives on Japonisme: The Japanese Influence on America. New Brunswick, May 13-14, 1988. pp. 23-75, p. 70.
  • Shane McCausland, Matthew P. McKelway. Chinese Romance from a Japanese Brush: Kano Sansetsu's Chogonka Scrolls in the Chester Beatty Library. United Kingdom. pp. 124-125, fig. 68.
  • Yoshiaki Shimizu. An Individual Taste for Japanese Painting. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 136-149, pl. 4.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 212, fig. 146.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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