Children at play

Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-1889)
Historical period(s)
Edo period or Meiji era, late 19th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 126.4 x 233 cm (49 3/4 x 91 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screen (six-panel)

child, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fox, game playing, Japan, Kintaro, kotori, mask, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), Momotaro, playing
Provenance research underway.

This screen depicts children in a game called kotori, or capture the child. A demon, played by a goblin-masked child in the center, tries to tag the last child in the line formed at the left. Other children on the right are dressed up as legendary characters. The child at the far right parades as Kintaro (Golden Boy), a prodigy who wrestled bears and other beasts. In the next panel, the child riding a dog masquerades as Momotaro (Peach Boy) who traveled to Demon Island with a dog, pheasant, and monkey in search of treasures for his beloved foster parents.

Kyosai was one of the most flamboyant and talented painters of the second half of the nineteenth century. An exceptionally knowledgeable connoisseur and careful student of Japanese antiquity, Kyosai was particularly skilled at giving contemporary voice to the images of the bizarre, macabre, and fantastic that are found throughout the history of Japanese painting. As a meticulous observer and celebrant of the human form in its multiple postures, Kyosai was a worthy successor to Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 59, p. 78.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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