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

The warrior pictured here playing the lute on a waterside rock is Taira no Tsunemasa (1164–1184), whose musical and poetic prowess was commemorated in Japan’s most famous medieval war chronicle, the Tale of the Heike. On the night before his final battle, Tsunemasa makes a pilgrimage to Tsukubusuma Shrine on the sacred island of Chikubushima, where he plays so beautifully that a white dragon appears in the sky. The mask-like quality of Tsunemasa’s face and the robe he wears over his armor suggest that Shuitsu’s source was in fact the contemporary performance of Tsunemasa’s story on the Nō stage, revealing a fascinating current of interest in historical figures revived through the quasi-spiritual performance of Nō drama.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Suzuki Shuitsu, Japanese (1823 - 1889)
Taira no Tsunemasa Playing the Biwa at Tsukubusuma Shrine
Work Type
painting, screen
19th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Two-panel folding screen; ink, color, gold, and silver on paper
image only, each panel: H. 145 x W. 82.4 cm (57 1/16 x 32 7/16 in.)
with mount: H. 149 x W. 84.5 cm (58 11/16 x 33 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: lower left: Seisei Shuitsu
  • seal: cauldron-shaped: Rosei
  • seal: square: Motoshige no in
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

Jidai byobu shuka, Shikosha Publishing Co. (Kyoto, Japan, 1990), p. 273

Murashige Yasushi, ed., Rinpa [Rimpa Painting] vol. IV : Scenes from Literature, People, Shikosha Publishing Co. (Kyoto, Japan, 1991), #242, p. 175

Rimpa bijutsukan vol III: Hoitsu to Edo Rinpa (Tokyo, Japan, 1993), p. 80, #79

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), pp. 54-55, cat. 13

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 92, fig. 80

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

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/03/2015 - 06/07/2016

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/07/2020 - 07/18/2021

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