Shibata Gitō, Acrobats, a 2-fold screen painting

Japan
Edo period, early 19th century

This is a makura-byōbu ('pillow screen') placed around bedding at night to protect from draughts. Depicted on the left panel are four acrobats wearing monkey masks providing entertainment at a shrine festival. The shrine is not identified, but it is possibly one connected with the monkey-cult, which was popular in Shintō as monkeys were associated with wisdom. On the right panel is a group of townspeople, dressed casually in summer clothes, with several people holding fans. A man sells wares from a tray, and two spectators have each been lifted up onto a companion's shoulder to catch a better view. The rest of the screen is filled with a conventional mist of scattered gold dust.

The figures are painted in the style of the Maruyama-Shijō school, whose founder Maruyama ōkyo (1737-95) had developed a new, naturalistic style to depict, among many other subjects, genre scenes of the urban life of Kyoto. Shibata Gitō (1780-1819) was a pupil of ōkyo's contemporary Go Shun (1752-1811). He died young and his works, characterized by fine brushwork and a light-hearted charm, are relatively rare.

The signature reads 'Gitō sha' ('Painted by Gitō') and the seals together read 'Gitō'.

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Shibata Gitō, Acrobats, a 2-fold screen painting

  • Detail: signature and seals

    Detail: signature and seals

 

More information

Bibliography

Dimensions

Height: 423.000 mm (each)
Width: 529.000 mm (each)

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD1044 (1994.4-12.01)

JCF12652

Location

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