A Show of Horsemanship, second half 17th century


During the Edo period (1603-1868) eighteen military techniques were considered essential for the training of a proper samurai. Foremost among these were archery, sword fighting, and horsemanship. Affluent warriors commissioned lavish folding screens that illustrated their favorite martial pastime. For this six-fold screen, the artist depicted a portion of a high-ranking warrior's estate as seen through golden clouds. To the right, a sizable mansion is shown complete with painted folding screens and sliding doors. The spectators, seated on green tatami mats and the wooden planks of the veranda, lounge casually in colorful and elegant robes. The focus of the screen, however, is the four horsemen who gallop about in the open courtyard.

Normally produced in pairs, it is unfortunate that the location of the mate to the museum's screen is unknown. A pair of screens designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan in the collection of the Taga shrine in Shiga Prefecture, however, offers evidence as to the likely nature of the missing screen. While the right screen is very similar in composition to the museum's example, the left screen depicts a long, low stable with six stalls occupied by six robust horses. It is likely that the mate to the museum's screen, therefore, would have included the remainder of the stable already partially represented.

A Show of Horsemanship
Accession Number
Yamada, Kyoto (until 1935); Nagatani Inc., Chicago; Louis W. Hill, Jr. (until 1962)
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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