The Four Accomplishments

Artist: Kaihō Yūshō (1533-1615)
Historical period(s)
Momoyama period, late 16th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image - each): 153.8 × 352.6 cm (60 9/16 × 138 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screens (six-panel)

Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), the four accomplishments
Provenance research underway.

The Chinese theme of The Four Accomplishments of the scholarly gentleman became a popular subject of Japanese painting from the sixteenth century on. Painting and the game of go, two of the arts to be mastered by the ideal gentleman, are illustrated on the right-hand screen, while the left-hand screen shows calligraphy and musical performance on a stringed instrument, the Chinese qin or the Japanese koto. A tranquil, beautiful natural setting surrounds the scholars as they enjoy the company of kindred minds and the pleasures of their common interests. The idea of The Four Accomplishments must have appealed especially to Japanese warriors and nobles, who were the most important patrons of the arts in the late sixteenth century, when this pair of screens was painted. Mastery of several arts, including calligraphy, poetry, and music, had been a requirement of life in the Japanese imperial court since the Heian period (794-1185), and these ideals had been assimilated by the ascendant warrior class beginning in the late twelfth century.

This painting has been attributed traditionally to Kano Eitoku (1543-1590), the leading artist of the Kano school during the Momoyama period (1573-1615). Artists of the Kano school were renowned for their mastery of subjects and techniques derived from Chinese ink painting, and also for their skills in producing large-scale paintings in full color and gold for architectural projects.

Published References
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 1: pt. II, p. 8.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 4: pp. 98-106, 124, pl. 11-14.
  • Keiko Kawamoto. Nihon byobue shusei. 18 vols., Tokyo, 1977-1982. vol. 4: pl. 60.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 29, vol. 2: p. 160.
  • Takeda Tsuneo. Kano School and Painting Circle of the Momoyama Period. no. 344 Tokyo, November 1979. p. 7.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 114.
  • Jukoin: A Subtemple of Daitokuji. p. 171.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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