Genji in Exile at Suma, Late 16th century


In this melancholy scene, the large sea of rough, billowing waves, the lone nobleman seated in a rustic hut with only his books and koto as companions, and the dusky tones of ink and silver and gold suggest a remote locale. A windblown visitor dressed in a straw cape, who appears to have arrived in a small boat moored at the left, trudges along the shore to the hut. The green of the tatami mats and the white and pink of the blossoming cherry trees (indicating springtime) provide the only brightness in an otherwise somber composition reflecting the sense of isolation and the forlorn state of mind of the nobleman.

The subject of the screen is from the classic masterpiece of Japanese literature The Tale of Genji, written in the early eleventh century by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. The epic novel, comprised of fifty-four chapters, recounts the tumultuous romantic life of Hikaru Genji, the son of a Japanese emperor. The dramatic yet somber scene is based on chapters 12 and 13, Suma, and Akashi, in which Genji is exiled to the rural coastal town of Suma after he is discovered having an affair with the emperor’s consort. The mysterious visitor may represent a messenger sent by Genji’s lover to retrieve him, or he may be the Akashi Novitiate, who wishes to bring Genji to Akashi to marry his daughter. Both are described as arriving in Suma by boat in the midst of a raging storm.



Kawakatwu collection, Yokohama, by 1942 or 1949;

(Jean-Pierre Dubosc (1904-1988), Paris and Tokyo) by 1969;

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1971.