Japanese Folding Screen - EDO

Important folding screen with painted decoration on paper. Consisting of six leaves, it represents Chinese scholars in a garden, horse and cart ride, woman playing with children.

The scene depicted could be taken from stories 16, 17 and 18 of the novel The Dream in the Red Pavilion, when the Cao family - then at the height of its glory - receives the imperial Companion Jia. The splendor of the palanquin carrying the woman reinforces this hypothesis.

Written by Cao Xueqin (ca.1715-1763?) who claims to have been a mere reviser of the work, The Dream in the Red Pavilion is one of the four major works of Chinese literature, retracing the rise, the apogee and then the fall of the Cao family. Partly autobiographical, the story is also endowed with a double philosophical and aesthetic dimension.  Cao Xueqin's family had very close ties with the imperial house of the Manchu dynasty. The author emphasizes this fact in the narrative: "It is unique that they received the imperial procession four times ... Money does not speak of it. ...] Money is not mentioned. It was only dung and dust for them. ...] They were only spending the money of the imperial house for the Emperor, that's all. "The family will decline when the new Emperor Yongzhen, having succeeded his father Emperor Kangxi by murdering his brothers, will dismiss and seize all the property of the Cao who knew the conspiracy that brought him to power.

It is at this period that Cao Xueqin was born.

The byōbu (Japanese screens made of several articulated sections) gained popularity during the Edo period thanks to the growing interest of the population in arts and crafts. These screens decorated the homes of samurai and the wealthy classes: they announced the rank, wealth and power of the owner. The byōbu screens differ according to the number of leaves. The six-leaf screen is called the rokkyoku byōbu. The growing interest in byōbus has led to important changes in their manufacture: decorations made of gold leaf and colorful paintings representing nature and scenes of daily life.

Japan – Edo (1638-1868) – 18th century

Height 73.22in – 6 leaves – Total length 188.97in