Murasaki Shikibu 紫式部
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lady Murasaki (978?-1014?), most famous writer of the Heian period and subject of several paintings. Her GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji) has been illustrated countless times since the early 12c (see *genji-e 源氏絵) and her diary MURASAKI SHIKIBU NIKKI 紫式部日記 (The Diary of Lady Murasaki) was illustrated in the 13c scrolls (Murasaki Shikibu Nikki Emaki 紫式部日記絵巻, Fujita 藤田 Museum and Gotou 五島 Museum). Counted among the Thirty-six Poetic Immortals *sanjuurokkasen 三十六歌仙, Murasaki Shikibu's imaginary portrait is found among poet portraits *kasen-e 歌仙絵. Another typical composition subject based on the legend that Lady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji at Ishiyamadera 石山寺 in Shiga prefecture, has her depicted as a court lady, sitting at a low writing desk on the verandah of a temple while gazing at the moon over Lake Biwa 琵琶. The scene is found in the scrolls of the History of Ishiyamadera, Ishiyamadera Engi Emaki 石山寺縁起絵巻, vol. 4, by Tosa Mitsunobu 土佐光信 (1497), Col. of Ishiyamadera and later frequently depicted by artists of various schools.


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