[Detail view: Whose Sleeves? (Tagasode), Momoyama period (1573–1615), late 16th century Japan. Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on gilded paper. 57 1/16 x 136 9/16 in. (144.9 x 346.8 cm); folded: 65 x 26 1/2 x 5 in. (165.1 x 67.3 x 12.7 cm). H. O. Havemeyer collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.493–4). Metropolitan Museum of Art.]
Okay, I'm hooked on Connections, the Met's new weekly interactive feature launched earlier this month (see this past post for details). Today, museum educator Joeseph Loh references pieces in the Met's collection while sharing his thoughts on the ideal woman, and curator of prints Nadine Orenstein discusses the ideal man.
Toward the end of his brief talk, Loh mentions his fondness for a specific type of Japanese painting, Tagasode (or Whose Sleeves). In these works layers of possessions -- here folded cotton and silk kimonos -- convey a portrait of someone but we never actually see a figure. The paintings are a bit like the Momoyama (1573–1615) and Edo (1615–1868) periods version of "What's in her handbag?". Or more precisely, to paraphrase the Met, the idea is that a picture of a person expressed through his or her personal belongings can be a stronger likeness than a conventional portrait. Click here to see the painted screen in full.