Korin Irises (National Treasure, Nezu Museum) and Eight-Planked Bridge (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) 【Working Title】

The Nezu Museum National Treasure Irises screens created in the early 18th century by Kyoto artist Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) are a masterpiece in the history of Japanese painting. Based on a scene from the Yatsuhashi or Eight-Bridges section of The Tales of Ise, this pair of six-panel folding screens with gold leaf ground presents vivid images of irises painted in ultramarine. This work is considered representative of Kōrin’s early phase of what was a quite late development as a painter.

Irises, by Ogata Kōrin
Nezu Museum

About a dozen years later, after his sojourn in Edo, Kōrin set his sights on painting another work on this same theme and created the Yatsuhashi screens. Unlike the Nezu Irises screens the Yatsuhashi screens include motifs hinting at the Eight-Bridges, along with the irises, in all the more mysterious compositional arrangement.

Eight-Bridges (Yatsuhashi), by Ogata Kōrin
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Louisa Eldridge McBurney Gift, 1953 (53.7.1, .2)
Image (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art

After almost a century of separation, this exhibition brings together Kōrin’s Irises screens and Yatsuhashi screens, two works which are in collections separated by the Pacific Ocean. Two pairs of six-panel gold screens on the same theme, painted at different times in Kōrin’s career. This exhibition will provide a long-awaited opportunity to examine the glorious results of Kōrin’s inimitable talents.

Date: 2011 April 16 [Sat]- May 15 [Sun] *Closed on Mondays except May 2