John T. Carpenter. Inscribing and Illuminating The Tale of Genji in Momoyama Japan
The major loan exhibition ‘The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (5 March–16 June 2019) includes over one hundred artworks inspired by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu’s narrative, dating from the 11th century to the present day. In his article, John Carpenter reflects on the remarkable florescence of calligraphy and painting in the late 16th and early 17th century. Poems and prose excerpts from Genji transcribed by some of the finest courtier-calligraphers of the day—Konoe Nobutada, Karasumaru Mitsuhiro, Hon’ami Shōkadō Shōjō, Asukai Masatsune—as well as by the prominent female calligrapher Ono no Ozū are examined, along with paintings created for the palace and elite samurai patrons.