Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This screen playfully explores optical reality. The fish and turtles moving through the limpid water lapping at the sand bar are rendered with such scientific accuracy that they can be identified as male and female carp, killifish, and minnows. The fish and turtles are painted on one layer of translucent silk and the water on another, mounted behind the first, so that the creatures appear to swim in the moiré of the silk itself. Despite its novelty, however, this illusory aquatic world still operates within the traditional East Asian framework of auspicious painting, in which the combination of fish, turtles, and pines like those growing at the water’s edge symbolizes wishes for success and longevity.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Maruyama Ōkyo 円山応挙, Japanese (Anafuto, Tamba province 1733 - 1795)
Fish and Turtles
Work Type
screen, painting
c. 1772 - 1781
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Two-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk
painting proper, each panel: H. 59.2 × W. 89.6 cm (23 5/16 × 35 1/4 in.)
with mount, each panel: H. 64.2 × W. 94.4 × D. 1.5 cm (25 1/4 × 37 3/16 × 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • signature: 應舉冩 [Painted by Ōkyo]
  • seal: square, intaglio: 應挙之印 [Ōkyo no in]
[Yanagi Hiroshi, Kyoto, (1989)], sold; to Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg, Bethesda, MD (1989-2018), gift; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2018.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Tea-size (furosake) screens
Publication History

Jidai byobu shuka, Shikosha Publishing Co. (Kyoto, Japan, 1990)

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), pp. 108-109, cat. 47

Rachel Saunders, "Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection", Orientations, Orientations Magazine (Hong Kong, January/February 2020), vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 20-33, p. 26, figs. 6a and 6b

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), pp. 74-75, figs. 62-63

Exhibition History

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

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 06/06/2021

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Articles

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