Through June 16, 2019, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated, which includes more than 120 works of art from 32 public and private collections in Japan and the United States. The exhibition explores the tale’s continuing influence on Japanese art since it was written by the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu (ca. 978–ca. 1014) around the year 1000. Often referred to as the world’s first novel, “The Tale of Genji” has been captivating readers through its sophisticated narrative style, humor and wit, as well as its unforgettable characters, beginning with the “radiant prince” Genji, whose life and loves are the focus of the story. Comprising 54 chapters, “The Tale of Genji” describes the life of the prince, from the amorous escapades of his youth to his death, as well as the lives of his descendants, introducing along the way some of the most iconic female characters in the history of Japanese literature. Organized thematically in eight sections, the exhibition pays special attention to the Buddhist reception of the tale, while also giving prominence to Genji’s female readership and important works by female artists.
Image courtesy of The Met.