Making Sense of Glances and Gestures: A Japanese Poet-Portrait Screen in Context

Tomoko Sakomura

By analyzing placement, posture, breaks in formality and iconography in a pair of 17th-century Japanese folding screens, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Tomoko Sakomura places the two screens within the vibrant histories surrounding the "immortal poets" they depict.

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Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Tomoko Sakomura examines a pair of 17th-century Japanese folding screens and the imaginary portraits of 36 "immortal poets." These portraits have long had a place within the visual culture of Japanese classical poetry as early examples date back to the 13th century. By analyzing placement, posture, breaks in formality and iconography, Sakomura places the two screens within the vibrant histories surrounding the “immortal poets,” the social and political nature of poetic events held at the imperial court in the early 17th century, and the strategic ways in which icons of the past were re-imagined for contemporary causes.