The Tale of Genji, chapter 2: Prince Genji’s visit to Utsusemi

Artist: Tosa Mitsuoki (1617-1691)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 17th century
Ink, color and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 171.6 x 376.7 cm (67 9/16 x 148 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)

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, prince, The Tale of Genji, tree

To 1904
Yamanaka & Company, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1904 [2]

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


[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Screens and Panels List, L. 90, pg. 25, 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.

[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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


Written in the early eleventh century by a lady of the imperial court, Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji presents an enthralling narrative of the life of Prince Genji. Already illustrated before the end of the Heian period (794-1185), the pictorial conventions for Genji illustrations were well established. All fifty-four chapters, separated by golden clouds, could be illustrated on a large Japanese screen, but sometimes one chapter was illustrated on one of a pair of screens.

Published References
  • Tomoko Emura. Tosa Mitsuyoshi. no. 543 Japan. .
  • Doris Croissant. Sotatsu und der Sotatsu-Stil: Untersuchungen zu Repertoire, Ikonographie und Asthetik der Malerei des Tawaraya Sotatsu (um 1600-1640). Munchener ostasiatische Studien: Sonderreihe, Bd. 3 Wiesbaden. pl. 80.
  • unknown title. no. 247 Tokyo, December 1986. fig. 66.
  • Dai nikai Nihon meihoten gashu [Collection of Japanese Objects of Art Shown in the Second Exhibition of Famous Treasures]. Tokyo. pl. 16.
  • The Tale of Genji. Tokyo. p. 20.
  • Yoshiaki Shimizu. An Individual Taste for Japanese Painting. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 136-149, pl. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Related Objects