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

This rare polychromatic screen was painted by Shōhaku at the height of his powers of pictorial grotesquerie. It depicts a famous episode from the 14th-century war epic the Tale of the Heike, in which the warriors Kagesue (left, in red) and Takatsuna (right, in green) compete for the honor of being the first to cross Uji River after retreating enemy troops have destroyed the bridge. As they approach the churning water, Takatsuna tricks Kagesue into thinking his saddle is loose. When Kagesue leans down to check, Takatsuna rushes past him to the claim the victory. Shōhaku paints Takatsuna with a pale, mask-like face; his sinister air is magnified by the fangs of his horse, Ikezumi ("Mortal Eater").

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Soga Shōhaku 曾我蕭白, Japanese (Ise 1730 - 1781 Kyoto)
Race at the Uji River
Work Type
screen, painting
c. 1764
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Six-panel folding screen; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper
image only: H. 157.8 x W. 363 cm (62 1/8 x 142 15/16 in.)
with mount: H. 174 x W. 387 cm (68 1/2 x 152 3/8 in.)
screen opened, flexed: W. approx. 317.5 cm (125 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • signature: 曾我左近次郎暉雄蛇足軒蕭白筆 [Painted by Soga Sakonjirō Teruo Jasokuken Shōhaku]
  • seal: top right; upper; round, relief: 蕭白 [Shōhaku]
  • seal: top right; lower; square, relief: 如鬼 [Joki]
  • seal: upper; square, intaglio: 曾我暉雄 [Soga Teruo]
  • seal: lower; square, relief: 蕭白 [Shōhaku]
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Tsuji Nobuo, "Soga Shohaku: Screen of the Battle of Uji River", Kokka, Kokkasha (March 2000), #1253, plate #6

Soga Shohaku burai to iu yuetsu : tokubetsu tenrankai, exh. cat., Kyoto National Museum (Kyoto, Japan, 2005), #77, pp. 258-260, 345, 378, 400

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, ed., Traditions unbound : groundbreaking painters of eighteenth-century Kyoto, exh. cat. (San Francisco, 2006), illus. #44, pp. 154-55

Kano Hiroyuki and Rinsen Shoten, Soga Shohaku : Araburu miyako no eshi (Kyoto, Japan, 2007), p. 52

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 132-133, cat. 63

Kit Brooks, "'A School unto Himself'? The Formation of Soga Shohaku (1730-81), Orientations (September 2015), vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 104-105, fig. 1

Yukio Lippit, "From Kisō to Kijin: Reconsidering Eccentricity in Edo Painting", Orientations, Orientations Magazine (Hong Kong, January/February 2020), vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 44-51, p. 48, fig. 5

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 64, figs. 52-53

Exhibition History

Shohaku Show, Kyoto National Museum, Kyoto, 04/12/2005 - 05/15/2005

Traditions Unbound: Groundbreaking Painters from Eighteenth-Century Kyoto, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, 12/05/2005 - 02/26/2006

Flowing Streams and Rivers in Japanese Life, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12/21/2006 - 06/03/2007

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 - 06/06/2021

Subjects and Contexts

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