Snipe Over a Marsh from the Three Dusks

Artist: Kano Tan'yū 狩野探幽 (1602-1674)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1665
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 30.5 × 44.9 cm (12 × 17 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, snipe

To 1904
Michael Tomkinson (1841-1921), Kidderminster, England, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Michael Tomkinson in 1904 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono Reserved List, R. 397, 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)

Michael Tomkinson (C.L. Freer source) 1841-1921
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


The "Three Dusks" or "Three Evening Poems" is a famous group of three poems by three different authors. The poems are recorded in the imperial poetry anthology Shin kokinshu, compiled in the early thirteenth century. The poem below, composed by the Buddhist monk Saigyo (1118-1190), is inscribed on this painting by Kano Tan'yu, one of the leading artists of the seventeenth century.

While denying his heart,
Even a priest must feel his body knows
The depth of a sad beauty:
From a marsh at autumn twilight
Snipes that rise and wing away.

Using only the palest tones of ink and tints of translucent color, Tan'yu has created a subtle and indefinite pictorial image that echoes the mood of the poem.  The refined and elegant calligraphy of the inscription is attributed to Imperial Prince Ryosho (1622-1693), who became a Buddhist monk in 1634.

Translation by Robert H. Brower and Earl Miner, Japanese Court Poetry (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961)

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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