Preparatory drawing for a fan with a scene from the Tale of Shuten Doji


Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-1889)
Historical period(s)
Late Edo period, 1831-1889
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 18.2 x 49.5 cm (7 3/16 x 19 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Drawing, Painting


fan, Japan, Late Edo period (1716 - 1868), Shuten Doji, Tale of Shuten Doji, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Mrs. Marion U. Hammer


The Tale of Shuten Doji has long been popular in Japan; the earliest-known illustrated version of this tale dates to the fourteenth century. Minamoto no Yorimitsu (948-1021), a historical figure of great martial prowess, was transformed in popular literature into a legendary hero who rescued the realm from demonic forces. Shuten Doji, a monster who lived southwest of Kyoto, terrorized the population, dining on locals and holding young maidens captive. With divine assistance and various means of subterfuge, Yorimitsu beheaded the ogre and returned the region to tranquility.

Kyosai's interest in the narrative format and his careful connoisseurship of ancient works of art are evident in his paintings and sketchbooks. Riddled with macabre humor and images of the grotesque, his own paintings catered to the tastes of late Edo (1615-1868) and early Meiji (1868-1912) audiences.

Published References
  • Donald F. Gibbons, Dorothy Shepherd Payer, Katharine C. Ruhl. Techniques of Silversmithing in the Hormizd Plate. vol. 11 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 27-38.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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