Six poem sheets (shikishi) with verses from the Wakan roeishu


Four-fold screen. Hiragana and semi-cursive Chinese scripts.

Artist: Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614)
Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, early 17th century
Ink on paper decorated with gold and silver
H x W: 73 x 188.5 cm (28 3/4 x 74 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screen (four-panel)

bridge, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), semi-cursive script, shikishi, snow, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Honde Seiichi


Four-fold screen. Hiragana and semi-cursive Chinese scripts.


(Y. Shimizu, 1982) [^j^] Along the upper right margin of sheet A is pasted a label (h: 13.3 cm x w: 1.9 cm) with an inscription which reads: "Kono'e nobutada ko shikishi jumai" or "Poem sheets by Lord Kono'e Nobutada, ten sheets." On the lower section of the label is a rectangular relief seal imprint which reads "Masanobu." The inscription and the seal indicate the label is an authentication label (see folder sheet).

A second label (h: 5.5 cm x w: 1.8 cm), which appears to be of a more recent vintage, is pasted on the upper left of the reverse side of panel 1, which says "Sanmyaku-in furosaki," which can be translated "Low screen used for tea by Sanmyaku-in." Sanmyaku-in is the posthumous Buddhist title of Kono'e Nobutada (see biographical notes in folder sheet).

The first label on panel 1 identifies the calligrapher as Kono'e Nobutada (1565-1614). The label may have been written by Kubo Masanobu or Kubo Kyunosuke, who was one of the members of the Kubo family of the 17th century, who were employed by the Tokugawa Government as yuhitsu official calligraphers and connoisseurs (see Komatsu Shigemi, Nihon shoryu zenhsi, vol. 1, pp. 605-607). If the seal imprint "Masanobu" can be identified as that of Kubo Masanobu, the label must have been written sometime between 1636 and 1682 when Kubo Masanobu was most active. Apart from references found in Komatsu's study on the Kobu family members, there is, however, nothing that corroborates the identity of either the authorship of the inscription or the seal itself on the Freer screen as those of Kubo Masanobu.


The text of the anthology Wakan roeishu compiled by Fujiwara no Kinto (966-1041), provided for all Japanese calligraphers a text of the brief verses that displayed their virtuosity in both the Chinese and the Japanese calligraphic modes. Written on square-poem-sheets (shikishi) that have been decorated subtly with painted designs in silver and gold are six poems from this anthology, three in Chinese and three in Japanese. Arranged on a small screen which would define an intimate space within a larger room, the poems provided a literary setting for serving tea. The calligrapher, Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614), was an innovative writer who developed a distinctive personal style after studying the work of Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241). His writing stresses variations between spacious and compressed composition of characters and the contrast between thick and thin brushwork.

Published References
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 27, p. 82-83.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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