Photo © Photography: John Tsantes and Neil Greentree © Robert Feinberg
Gallery Text

Hokusai produced hundreds of pictures of rapidly urbanizing Edo and the westward route to Kyoto, creating an influential image of Japan that maintains a powerful hold on the global popular imagination today. In this dynamic painting, however, Hokusai presents the historical Japanese hero Minamoto no Yorimasa (1104–1180) in the instant before he looses a fatal arrow on the nue (not pictured), a supernatural monster with the head of a monkey, torso of a badger, limbs of a tiger, and tail of a snake. The medieval story was popularized in Edo on the Kabuki stage. The malevolent presence of the monster is implied here by the two rays of light that emanate from the roiling clouds above. Yorimasa himself is shown with almost grotesquely tensed musculature. Hokusai updates the warrior’s costume by painting an Edo period robe over his traditional armor.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
TL42147.14
People
Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese (1760 - 1849)
Title
Minamoto no Yorimasa Aiming an Arrow
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
Date
1847
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Period
Edo period, 1615-1868
Culture
Japanese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/340431
Location
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions
image only: 99 x 42.2 cm (39 x 16 5/8 in.)
with mount: 192 x 55.8 cm (75 9/16 x 21 15/16 in.)
display dimensions: 198.8 x 61.6 cm (78 1/4 x 24 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • seal: Hyaku
  • inscription: Hachijūhachi rōjin Manji hitsu
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
TL42147.14
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Nagata Seiji, Hokusai nikuhitsuga taisei, Shogakukan Inc. (Tokyo, Japan, 2000), illus. #130, p. 125

Tokyo National Museum, ed., Hokusai ten, exh. cat., Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. (Tokyo, 2005), illus. #489, p. 285

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 171, cat. 89

Timothy Clark, ed., Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, Thames and Hudson, Ltd. and British Museum (United Kingdom, 2017), cat. no. 216, p. 321

Rhiannon Paget, Hokusai, Taschen (Köln, 2018), p. 80, ill.

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 93, fig. 81

Exhibition History

Hokusai, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 10/25/2005 - 12/04/2005

Hokusai, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, 03/04/2006 - 05/14/2006

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/04/2015 - 11/29/2015

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 07/18/2021

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu