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

These screens depict two renowned figures in acts of elegant disregard for societal norms. At left is the fourth-century scholar-statesman Meng Jia (317–420), who failed to notice when his cap was blown off by a gust of wind at a formal gathering one day. When a colleague criticized his appearance, Meng replied with a beautifully phrased poem composed on the spot. At right is the celebrated poet Su Shi (1036–1101), who, upon getting caught in a sudden rainstorm, borrowed a simple hat and clogs from a nearby farmer and continued on his way. Although Taiga’s brushwork suggests swift execution, the composition of the screens is in fact carefully planned to establish a series of comparisons between the bare-headed statesman and the hatted poet, one turned away beneath a coniferous pine, the other approaching a deciduous tree.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Ikeno Taiga 池大雅, Japanese (Kyoto 1723 - 1776)
The Poet Su Shi and Meng Jia Loses His Hat
Work Type
painting, screen
18th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and light color on paper
each image only: H. 155.4 x W. 359.6 cm (61 3/16 x 141 9/16 in.)
each with mount, flat: H. 174.3 x W. 379 cm (68 5/8 x 149 3/16 in.)
each screen opened, flexed: W. approx. 304.8 cm (120 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • signature: (right sreen) 九霞山樵勤写 [Mountain Woodcutter of the Nine Mists]; (left screen) 霞樵 [Woodcutter in the Mist]
  • seal: right screen; upper; square, intaglio: 無名 [Mumyō or Arina]
  • seal: right screen; middle; square, intaglio: 貸成 [Kasei]
  • seal: right screen; lower; square, relief
    : 玉皇香案吏 [Gyokkō kōanri]
  • seal: left screen; upper; rectangular, intaglio
    : 怪々奇々不専一能 [Kaikai kiki fusen ichinō]
  • seal: left screen; lower; square, relief: 玉皇香案吏 [Gyokkō kōanri]
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

Miho Museum, ed., Jakuchu wandarando, exh. cat. (Shiga, Japan, 2009), pp. 222-227, #104

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), pp. 65-72, cat. 21

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, pp. 48-49, fig. 6; p. 50. fig. 6a; p. 51, fig. 6b

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), pp. 60-61, figs. 48-49

Exhibition History

Jakuchu Wonderland, Miho Museum, Shiga, 09/01/2009 - 12/13/2009

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

Google Art Project

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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