Whose Sleeves?

Artist: Unknown Japanese

(Japan, early 17th century)

Not on View

Few of us would display artwork of our closets flung open. But then, few of us have clothes like this, sumptuous garments neatly hanging from lacquer racks— except one, carelessly thrown onto the lower rail. 

Such folding screens were used as decorative room dividers in castles, and usually not signed by the artist. Whoever owned these silk and cotton clothes, and the koto string instrument on the floor, likely led a life of art and refinement. And didn’t mind showing it, instead of a hawk or other lordly symbol.