Frolic at the Water’s Edge

Artist: Kanō Chikanobu 狩野周信 (1660-1728)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, late 17th-early 18th century
Ink, color, and gold on paper
H x W: 176 x 381.9 cm (69 5/16 x 150 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screen (six-panel)

boat, cloud, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, tree, ukiyo-e

Prince Arisugawa-no-miya Collection [1]

To 1902
Yamanaka & Company, to 1902 [2]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1902 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to a note from the Original Screen List (see Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record).

[2] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Screen, L. 56, pg. 14, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[3] See note 1.

[4] 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)

Prince Arisugawa-no-miya
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


Paintings detailing the pleasures of seasonal outdoor parties were particularly common in the seventeenth century. Here, the relaxed activities of Buddhist clerics are one of several such scenes in which a cross section of the general population is observed at leisure. This painting is rare by virtue of its singular focus on male merriment and by its depiction of a social reality in seventeenth-century Japan, that is, an operative presumption of homosexual interest in the religious and military classes.
The entertainment provided by dwarf sumo wrestlers at the far left probably chronicles yet another oddity available for the amusement of the revelers.

Published References
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 13, pp. 32-33.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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