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Harunobu
Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-70
Five Constancies: Sincerity
(Gojo: Shin)


chuban tate-e 11 1/8 by 8 3/8 in., 28.4 by 21.2 cm
The figure seated before a writing table on a veranda is representative of Lady Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the early 11th century epic story, The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). According to legend, Murasaki was instructed to write a novel by the Princess Senshi (964-1035) of the Imperial court. Seeking inspiration, Murasaki secluded herself at the Ishiyama-dera of Kyoto and prayed for seven days to Nyoirin Kannon.
The poem in the cartouche reads:

hi o shirite zen o michibiku kokoro koso makoto no shin to yu-bekari keri

To be aware of benevolence and to lead the way toward goodness: this is true fidelity

References:
Margaret O. Gentles, The Clarence Buckingham Collection, Volume II, Art Institute of Chicago, 1965, p. 70, no. 111
Jack Hillier, Suzuki Harunobu, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1970, p. 135, cat. no. 77 (from AIC)
Miyako Murase, Emaki: Narrative Scrolls from Japan, The Asia Society, 1983, p. 158 (on Murasaki and the Ishiyama-dera)
Chiba City Museum of Art, Suzuki Harunobu, 2002, p. 168, no. 169 (from AIC)
David Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2013, Vol. 1, p. 135, cat. no. 193
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