JAPAN -- Tokugawa Period (Part I)
(1600 to 1800)
Picture of a Chinese of the Manchu Dynasty
Dai Shin Cho-jin no Dzu
) was an early hand-colored Nagasaki
from the seventeenth century. On a flat-topped, waist-high upside-down
cone-shaped rock or large tree stump rests a
and what appears to be a
book (as opposed to a scroll). The pot is a medium-sized vase, flaring
up to the neck before then returning at the top to the same diameter as
its base. It is dark with a large crackle-glaze. A fairly nondescript
tree, probably deciduous, is at home in the container. (The shape
of the trunk and branches might be, if you’ll pardon the more recent reference,
roughly described as “Communist hammer and sickle with the curve to the
left.”) To the back of the rock/stump table is an elderly man with
a rounded fan who admires the tree. To the front of this is a small
boy pulling a wheeled toy junk with a large sail. From the quality
of the print one can say that the printing art in Nagasaki, gateway to
the outside world, was much further established than that at Kyoto and
Edo (Tokyo), eventually spreading to those cities.
The Work: Another early hand-colored Nagasaki print (30.5 x 44 cm) shows two Dutchman and an Oriental servant on the left side (as Picture of a Hollander ( Hollander Jin Dzu )) and three Chinese on the right side (as Picture of Chinese ( To-Jin Dzu )). The two Dutchman are military/naval officers and their servant carries a closed umbrella over his right shoulder. Two of the three Chinese are apparently mandarins; the third, to the left of them, is a servant or porter who carries on his left shoulder a medium-sized dwarfed potted tree which is possibly a blossoming plum in a weeping-willow/umbrella style. It appears that the original trunk several centimeters above the soil line was removed and a branch near this new top has grown (been trained to grow?) upward and become the new apex. The container is a slightly top flaring cylinder without a distinct lip and whose upper half has been decorated in some dark fashion. 2
The Work: The panels which make up this 166 cm (65") tall Japanned Cabinet are decorated with figures, a flowering tree in a pot (on the front left panel), and a pagoda. The composition, dated from about 1685, though attractive, lacks the oriental flair for design. The cabinet rests on a finely carved silver-gilt stand, and it forms a pair with another made of oriental lacquer. The cabinets are to be found at The Vyne, Hampshire. 3
The Potted Dwarf Trees
is also the name of an unattributed six panel screen (ink, color, and gold on paper,
152.6 cm H x 377.0 cm W) from the early eighteenth century showing a
performance of this story on the stage of the Takemoto theater in Osaka.
The three snow-covered potted trees -- from left to right: pine, bare plum,
and blossomed cherry -- are on an engawa to the right of the horse stall
on the two left-most panels. The three puppeteers manipulating the
"actors" are onstage in panels two through four. Players who supplied
music and dialogue are seated upon an elevated dias in the two right-most
The Work: Potted Plants, an extra large oban (approx. 60 x 30 cm), depicts a potted landscape contained in a wooden vessel whose edges and sides are apparently dark metal stripped with light colored nailheads. At least two pieces of rockery (the larger one appearing to have both an arch and a through-hole), some small flowering plants, and a vertical section of bamboo back and center share the scene with a thick curving-trunked dwarf tree bearing light and medium colored 5-petal flowers and thin sprays of small dark two or three-sectioned leaves. The container on cloud feet is shown in an attempt at perspective.
The Artist: Torii Kiyomasu (1679-1718?), probably the younger brother of Torii Kiyonobu [1664-1729, founder of the Torii sub-school which applied itself chiefly to theatrical subjects and at the end of the seventeenth century monopolized the production of images of Kabuki actors for signboards, illustrated programs and souvenir prints in a bold style described as “gourd-shaped legs and wriggling worm line.”]. Kiyomasu’s work is rare today -- only some 80 known theater prints by six publishers -- although a play-bill dated 1693 and illustrated books from 1703 and 1712 are credited to him. 5
The Work: Uki-e of Saimyoji Tsuneyo Setchu No Hachinoki (Perspective Print of Hachinoki in the Snow at Saimyoji Tsuneyo) The three trees are in deep wooden containers with cloud handles. A man with raised blade is in the middle of the picture ready to strike at one of the trees. That one and the pine to the right are on the engawa. The third tree is on the ground just past the edge of the porch.
The Artist: Attributed to Kiyomasu Torii II (1720-1760) 6
The Work: Flower vendor, a hosoban (approx. 15 x 33 cm) published by Igaya Kan'emon c.1720s/30s, depicts a woman with two double-shelf benches, each shelf holding a planted pot. Each bench has a pair of alternating b&w colored ropes which meet above the top shelf going through a wide eyelet in a shoulder poll used to carry the benches. From the bottom of the bench to the top of the upper planting is perhaps the equivalent of nearly 5 ffet tall. The left bottom shelf holds a deep oval pot having a crackle glaze and holding at least two types of leaved plants and maybe a stone. The left upper shelf holds a narrow deep wooden box having "cloud handles" and holding a couple long curvy woody-stemmed flowering plants. The taller plant has a tag with calligraphy.&bsp; The bottom right shelf holds a slightly wider wooden box having "cloud handles" and a variety of plants, one of which has a thicker curved woody-stem. The upper right shelf, lastly, has a deep round bowl with possibly tall chrysanthemums, again with what apparently is an identification tag attached near the top. The two wooden boxes might be described as miniature landscapes. This print is important because it shows the earliest known use of the shoulder carrier for potted plant transportation. (The publisher Igaya Kan'emon was active in prints starting in the 1690s until the business was taken over in 1860. He became one of the most active publishers during the early years, especially during the 1730s and 1740s when he nearly dominated the field of actor prints. Libretti were Igaya's main business. During 1811 and 1813 he was appointed four times to serve as a censor (gyōji) in an attempt by the government to regulate the print market. In the late 1830s and 1840s he worked mostly with Kunisada.)
The Artist: Nichimura Shigenaga (1697?-1756) was born in Edo and became a self-taught artist, not the student of a lineage of artists. His earliest work appeared around 1719 and he became a rival of the Okumura School. He sometimes imitated their style but also was influenced by Nishikawa Sukenobu (1671-1750) and Torii Kiyonobu I. Shigenaga is known for having a wide variety of subjects in several different formats. He greatly influenced Suzuki Harunobu and Ishikawa Toyonobu, who are sometimes seen as his students. 7
Female Version of "The Potted Trees"
(15.4 x 29.5 cm or 6-1/16 x 11-5/8 in.), ink on paper, with hand-applied color and nikawa.
The Artist: Nichimura Shigenaga 8
Parody of the Noh Drama 'Hachinoki', an
39 x 25 cm) this shows a woman in front center about to cut down a potted
cherry (?), while two other women to the left watch. A pine is between
them and a plum (?) is to the right of the cherry. Three other women
in an open room to the right/back are watching while preparing a meal.
An older man with a horse behind the scene looks down from left/back.
Interestingly, the pots are obviously constructed from wooden boards.
The Artist: Torii Kiyomitsu (aka Kiyomitsu I, born Kamejiro, presumably as the second son of Kiyomasu II, 1735-1785) lived in Edo and was the son and pupil of Torii Kiyomasu. His earliest known works are illustrated books from the late 1740s. His specialty was theater-scenes with female figures, Kabuki theatre placards and playbills, and illustrations for popular novels. The leading artist in Ukiyo-e circles during the first half of the 1760s, as the most active and prolific designer of active prints, his output decreased after that time. Among his many students was Kiyonaga who then succeeded him as the head of the Torii School. 9
One large print depicts dwarf
potted trees varied in both species and style from Itō Ihei (or Ibei)'s nursery.
-style trees -- pines with long, wavy "octopus arm" branches
-- are illustrated. All the trees, however, are planted in deep containers.
Between these years, the artist made several prints of Itō Ihei's
"Itō Ihei (his
exact dates of birth and death are unknown) was a gardener and, later,
a nurseryman in the early Edo period. Because of his great
knowledge of azaleas, he was known as Kirishima-ya, or 'Mr. Kirishima'
-- Kirishima being one of the most popular azalea types of the
day. He lived in the Somei District (present-day Komagome,
Toshima Ward) in Edo, Japan's capital, during the latter half of the
seventeenth century. His family was of the peasant class and had
resided in Somei, a major horticultural center, for generations.
When the demand for garden plants to landscape the castle gardens of
Edo increased, the Itō family began to specialize in ornamental plants
and gained a considerable reputation as gardeners.
[In 1695 was published
by San-nojō Hanado in Edo and Kyoto. (Chikinshō means "A view of
the earth's raiment.") This major six volume work covered the
entire range of Japanese ornamental trees and shrubs. It was also
one of the earliest to have descriptions of
momiji, the Japanese red maple (
). Cherry and camellia are also described, as were the very deep purple Noda-Fuji wisteria (
W. floribunda, D.C.), the No-Fuji, white wisteria, and other varieties which had already been cultivated for at least three centuries.
The Artist: Torii Kiyoharu (b. Kondo Kiyoharu, active 1705-1730's), was a pupil of Kiyonobu (1664-1729), who was influenced by Moronobu (see below). Kiyoharu lived in Edo, illustrated many popular novels, actor critiques, and guides to the Yoshimura pleasure quarter. His specialty was female figures. He was also active as a painter. 10
Flowers of Three Annual Observances
is a triptych, three hanging scrolls, each 98.9 x
40.8 cm. The painting has ink and heavy colors on silk and is the best known
of the artist's flower compositions. The First Month is portrayed
by a just-flowering plum, which is in a tiny-footed hexagonal celadon vase which
flares in the middle. The
(ranunculus) also in the container are plants associated with beginning
and longevity. As the first month of the lunar calendar was one
of what were traditionally regarded in Japan as the months in which
misfortune could strike, specific rituals or foods were prescribed to
ward off illness. Thus, this painting (and its partners for the
fifth and ninth months) is an expansive, amusing, and allusive
elaboration on the traditional practices. Above the plum is a
poem composed by the artist written in Chinese. So the artist
assembles the disparate threads of Chinese visual culture available to
the Japanese in the early eighteeth century -- poetry, calligraphy and
polychrome -- into a cohesive and distinctly Japanese
interpretation. His attempt to give volume to the vase strongly
suggests Ki-en's exposure to a range of Chinese professional painting.
Yanagisawa Ki-en (aka Ryū Rikyō, b. Yanagisawa
Rikyo, 1704-1758) would eventually be seen as one of the founders of the Nanga school. Born
in Edo as the younger son of a well-to-do family of feudal retainers near Nara, Ki-en was raised
by his older brother after the retirement of their father in 1710.
Some eight years later, Ki-en was accused of some "misdemeanor" -- of unknown
nature, but possibly some pardonable infringement of the strict clan rules,
such as an independent turn of mind might commit -- and he was prevented
from assuming his proper rank in the family. Two years later he was
The Parlor Game of Hand-Sumo/Finger Sign Game at Shin Yoshiwara
Shin Yoshiwara Zashiki Kenzumo
an extra large
oban, this is a hand-colored print (
depicting a pine in a tray on a stand to the right in the central room
shown. Note that perspective is only used in the center of this picture.
The Artist: Furuyama Moromosa (active c. 1715-1740) lived in Edo and was a pupil of Moronobu. [Hishikawa Moronobu (1625-1694) was born in Awa, died in Edo, and founded the Utagawa school. He was the first great master to make the Ukiyo-e school as designers for wood-engraving a real art.] Moromosa also studied under Moroshige, another pupil of Moronobu. Moromosa also specialized in female figures. 12
The Work: Tea Server Watching a Cuckoo Fly Above a Temple, a chūban (28.4 x 20.8 cm) from the late 1760's, this shows a medium-sized tree -- possibly a Japanese red maple ( momiji ) -- in a large deep and round light-colored pot with a wide lip. The container rests on a flat thick stone to the left of a large low table on which is set a tea service. A woman is in front of and between the tree and table.
The Artist: Suzuki Harunobu (aka Choeiken, 1725?-1770) lived in Edo, probably was a pupil of Shigenaga, and was influenced by Toyonobu, another of Shigenaga's students. Harunobu's life marks the most important epoch in Ukiyo-e history, for he brought into being true polychromatic prints, and has the earliest examples in which a background is introduced. His prints, close to 900 which were only made during the last decade of his life, are valued for their beauty, charm and rarity, lyricism and purity of feeling. His delicate and sensual female figures dominated the print market. His designs are predominantly in chūban (medium-print) 19 x 26cm size. He also created pictorial calendars (egoyomi), parody pictures (mitate-e), several erotic works, very few paintings, and illustrated some seventeen books. His works gave rise to many imitators. 13
Parody of "The Potted Trees"
(approx. 30 x 19 cm) which
show a woman in the left panel about to cut down the potted plum tree in
the dead of the snowy winter. The potted cherry and pine are left
of the plum, and all three are on a low table. A second woman watches
from a porch on the right panel.
The Work: Parody of "The Potted Trees" ( Mitate Hachi-no-ki ), a second composition on the theme has a woman standing in snow behind a snow-covered table upon which rest the three snow-covered trees, each in a small deep pot with a wide lip. The woman holds the knife upside down in her right hand as she uses it to lean against the edge of the table.
The Artist: Suzuki Harunobu 15
The Work: Twilight Snow of Hachinoki (Hachinoki no bosetsu), from the series Fashionable Eight Views of Noh Plays (Furyu utai hakkei) A long vertical print showing a woman sweeping snow off the roof of the porch, under which is a table with two trees showing in deep wooden containers with cloud handles. The pine on the right is only partly visible. Normally the third tree would then be further to the right, however a smaller tree is visible just behind the leg of the table. In a tall round pot with narrower bottom edge, this is actually a perhaps one inch diameter stump, perhaps three inches tall and sporting a slightly ramified thin branch off of the left edge near the top of the stump.
The Artist: Suzuki Harunobu 16
The Work: Parody of the Chinese Monks Kanzan and Jittoku, shows two women examining a scroll. Behind them in the tokonoma to the right is a potted tree.
The Artist: Suzuki Harunobu 17
The Work: ? Edo Meisho Somei No Uekiya (The Garden of Ihei Florist At Somei Edo). Vertical koban (22 x 15.8 cm) print (nishiki-e) of ink and color on paper. There is a shaded growing bed just above the center of the picture. (See #10 above for bio of "Ihei Florist".) Provenance/Ownership History: Spring 1913, purchased by William S. and John T. Spaulding from Frank Lloyd Wright in Japan; December 1, 1921, given by William S. and John T. Spaulding to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. (See also listing for Mar 5 at www.phoenixbonsai.com/Days/DaysMar.html. It is not known if this was one of the prints exhibited by Wright.)
The Artist: Suzuki Harunobu 18
The Work: The actors Ichikawa Komazō II as Hanamori Kisaku and Yamashita Kinsaku II as Oume in the play "Nue no mori ichiyō no mato," Nakamura Theater, XI/1770, a chūban from 1770 shows in the upper right quatrant an open-white-blossomed old plum in a deep round container resting on a bureau of sorts. The gnarly old tree, rising up slightly before bending sharply to the left, is pale greenish in color and appears to be surrounded by moss/grass of similar hue at its base.
The Artist: Ippitsusai Bunchō (aka Soyoan, 1725-1794) who lived in Edo and worked between 1755 and 1790. He was a follower of and co-painter with Shunshō (1729-1792, one of the Katsukawa leading artists of Ukiyo-e, particularly in both original and printed artist-portraiture). Bunchō, a writer of comic poems and an actor, specialized in female figures (especially during his last two decades) and actors, and also was influenced by Harunobu. 19
The Work: Shin-Yoshiwara sōjimai no zu (View of group amusement at the New-Yoshiwara) from the series Uki-e (Perspective Images), an ōban by publisher Matsumura Yahei in the 1770s, includes in the lower left corner dwarf potted pine. Perhaps equivalent to 18" tall, the large curved white trunk has a healthy amount of somewhat rounded foliage on top. Its pot is partially hidden behind a sectional railing, and a man is seated to the side of it looking at the tree. About two dozen persons are busy to the center and right of the picture. A front right "conga"-line has formed (cf. Torii Kiyomitsu entry with note 15 here and Furuyama Moromosa entry with note 8 above).
The Artist: Toyoharu (1735-1814) was from Toyooka in Tajima Province in Western Japan. He went to Kyoto and first studied painting under the Kantō School master Tsuruzawa Tangei (1688-1769). Around 1763 he moved to Edo and became a student of the print artist Toriyama Sekien (1712-1788). Toyoharu was also influenced by Ishikawa Toyonobu and Suzuki Harunobu. Toyoharu was the founder of the Utagawa school, so named because he was living in Udagawachō in Edo's Shiba district c.1768. His main students were Toyokuni and Toyohiro. Toyoharu was especially important for his horizontal prints using the Western technique of one-point vanishing perspective. These perspective prints illustrate famous Japanese sights, temples, theatres, and teahouses, as well as Occidental scenes from history and legend. Next to horizontal prints, Toyoharu did also several hashira-e ("pillar prints"). After working for less than ten different publishers during his entire career, he seemed to gave stopped designing prints in the 1780s and turned to paintings, with a few kabuki programs and billboards also designed. In 1796, he was appointed head of painters working on the restoration of the Tokugawa shrine in Nikko. 20
The Work: Pine, Bamboo and Plum in Yoshiwara (Seiro Shochikubai): Kisegawa of the Matsuba-ya House. A lovely courtesan is seated upright in the center of the print and in front of her to the right and past center bottom is a young girl, slightly forward leaning with hands next to her knees on the ground. Behind the older woman is a koto, a 13-string musical instrument. Both women are looking at the lower left-hand edge which holds a beautiful old medium-sized pine in a dark green cylindrical container resting on a light round stone trivet. The thin lipped pot has a raised cloud layer pattern along its sides and three flattened ball feet can be seen on the underside. The pine shows good rough bark, some good curves, a thin first branch to the right, and foliage pads with distinct needles.
The Artist: Eishosai Chōki (fl. 1760-1809), was a pupil of Toriyama Sekien (1712-1788), possibly his adopted son. Chōki is acclaimed for creating the most poetic and beautiful portraits of woman, epitomizing Japanese art and ideals of his time. In the late 1780s he produced two chūban series, each related to the popular theme of the "Eight Views." He also did pillar prints (hashira-e) and pictures of flowers and birds (kachō-e). It is known that he lodged with the publisher Tsutaya Jūzaburō (1750-1797), who produced most of his series. (Tsutaya joined the publisher Urokogataya around 1774, whose works included the Guide to Yoshiwara since 1735. Urokogataya was by far the most active publisher of actor prints in the first half of the eighteenth century. In 1776 the Yoshiwara-born Tsutaya took over and his firm continued these guides on a regular basis until 1836. In the same year, he also produced other books and soon engaged Hokusai, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Chōki, and others.) All told, Chōki worked for less than a dozen publishers. 21
The Work: "Appearance of Gardener" in Fuzoku Azuma no Nishiki (Beauties of the East as Reflected in Fashions). From c.1770's to pre-1790 comes a print of a dwarf tree vendor showing a few pots. Two women on the left (one with a baby) are looking down at a pair of trees along with three small pots of accessory plants (adonis ?). These specimens are on a square board which is connected by four thin bamboo poles to a crossbar extending to the right. The counterbalancing right side board is out of the picture. The merchant who brought the trees is crouched down on the right of the plants and is talking to the women. The larger tree is an old plum; the smaller to the left is, perhaps, a literati-style pine.
The Artist: Torii Kiyonaga (b. Seki Shinsuke, 1752-1815), son of a book dealer, was from Uraga (perhaps thirty miles across the bay from Edo) and later went to Edo where he became a pupil of Kiyomitsu (see above). After his teacher died in 1785, he was adopted by the family and inherited the Torii estate. It had already for four generations specialized in work closely related with the theater. Though actor prints in and billboards were his specialty at the beginning of his career he is especially known for his beautiful female figures, the main domain of Kiyonaga's artistic creativeness. Between 1780 and 1788 he was the leading artist of Ukiyo-e, influencing all contemporaries. For forty years, between 1771 and 1811, he also worked as illustrator of picture programs (e-banzuke) and books. He was the last of the great artists of the Torii family. 22
Eight Famous Interior Scenes,
in the mid-1770's. One of these was
A Young Girl Reading a Letter as a Woman Looks On, a
-sized print. Left of center
can be seen a potted plum (?) in white blossom on the orange-colored
The white deep round container has a slightly scalloped lip, and holds
the amber, orange and black trunked tree rising out of amber-colored soil.
The Artist: Torii Kiyonaga 23
The Work: Winter Evening ( Banto koetsu ), from c.1779, is a nishiki-e chūban from the series Eight Views at the Four Seasons ( Shiki Hakkei ). A medium-sized snow-covered pine is in a large deep pot outside the doorway on the engawa.
The Artist: Torii Kiyonaga 24
The Work: Entertaining Clients on a Veranda in the Fudo Rakudo District, 1785 (22.2 x 16.3 cm) in two parts published in the work Picture-book of Hills of Fair Views ( Ehon Monomi ga Oka ). This shows life in Edo throughout the year as recorded by one of the foremost Ukiyo-e artists. In the right-hand print, just left of and above center, partially hidden by a standing woman, is a wooden trapezoidal box, nailheads partially visible along the edge and bottom corner. This holds a wide branching pine, possibly one branch stretching far left (behind the woman) and a separate plant branching the equivalent of a meter or more far right. Small flat stone slabs are on the soil surface, a close bundle of different but classical pine branches is upright in the rear right corner of the box behind a cylindrical rock. The container seems too deep for this to be just a cut flower and branch arrangement. The box has a black indented, low pedestal base which appears to be resting in the center of some sheet/rug-covered low raised platform.
The Artist: Torii Kiyonaga 25
The Work: Actor Onoe Matsusuke, a Courtesan and Her Attendant is an aiban (approx. 33 x 23 cm) showing a large pine with other plants in a tray on a stand on the right edge behind the actor.
The Artist: Torii Kiyonaga 26
An untitled triptych shows
a woman from a samurai family of the time of Emperor Go-Mizuno-o making
a bonseki of a new style. Three courtly young women are shown, the
one kneeling on the left in a red kimono watches the other two. The
one on the right standing, in a dark blue kimono decorated with multi-color
flowers, talks to the middle woman who is in a light blue kimono and is
kneeling before the work mat. Behind her on a low stand is a completed
a dry landscape with stones representing mountains and white sand on the
black tray. On the mat before her is the white sand and black tray
-to-be, brushing feathers are laying on her left side,
sieves are to her right. A small chest of many drawers which contains
the various sands and tools to be used is off the mat in front of her.
The Artist: Utamaro Kitagawa (b. Toriyama Shimbi, 1753-1806) was the star of the golden age of Japanese printmaking (1789-1801) and the most celebrated artist of women of the whole Ukiyo-e school. He studied under the painter Toriyama Sekien. Over the course of his highly successful career he produced prints for no fewer than fifty-two publishers. His specialty was the female figure in over 120 series, over two thousand prints. He excelled at sensuous depictions, at conveying the sense of the glistening skin of the female body and capturing the most delicate nuances of emotional states. This was in a very different manner from Kiyonaga, who Utamaro replaced, or Masanobu. Furthermore he created approximately 30 paintings, and illustrations for almost one hundred books. However, some of the Utamaro's prints contained political messages that the authorities considered dangerous, and in 1804 he was even arrested and briefly imprisoned because of them. 27
The Work: In the Grounds of a Tea-House (1786-1788), from the series Pictures of Pastimes ( Koraku Zu ). Eleven people are seen in this triptych, which has a distinguished-looking pine in the lower right corner of the right-hand panel. The tree is in a deep round pot, which has a design of dragons in relief. Behind and to the left of the pine is seated a gentleman holding an opened folding fan.
The Artist: Utamaro Kitagawa 28
The Work: Ladies on a Terrace by the Sea, from 1788 to 1790, is the painting which depicts courtesans at a seaside pavilion. A large possibly rock-grown pine with a flowering plant beside it is on a large flat round white dish, which has dark blue on its outside. This is all on a raised platform left and back of center.
The Artist: Utamaro Kitagawa 29
The Work: Yûkun Nana-Komachi, from c.1804, depicts a reclining courtesan leaning over and closely examining what appears to be a bloosom-laden plum bonsai. The print is signed "Utamaro hitsu" and the publisher was Idzumi-ya Ichibei (Kansendô). The title here actually refers to the series in which seven courtesans are shown in comparison with seven episodes in the life of the legendary waka poetess Ono no Komachi (c.825-c.900).
The Artist: Utamaro Kitagawa 30
The Work: Evening Glow at Seta, one of the Eight Scenes of Omi, a chūban depicts two women conversing on the engawa. Behind the standing woman right of center are two bare dwarf potted trees peaking out around the corner of the screened wall. The container to the left and behind is pale and rounded without a distinct lip. The pot to the right is light colored and slightly flaring with a thin lip. The tree in the left pot has a very wide trunk and appears to have been cut off a few centimeters above the soil line, all branches growing from just below or at the cut. What can be seen of the righthand tree is made up of perhaps a few thin trunks.
The Artist: Kitao Masanobu (aka Santo Kyoden, 1761-1816, son of a pawnbroker), a highly talented pupil of Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1819, haiku poet name of Karan, and a collaborator with Shunshu), who was a student of Shigenaga. Masanobu was better known in his day as a poet under the name of Santo Kioden. His book illustrations of "Yoshiwara Beauties and their Autographs" is famous. His single-sheet prints are very fine and very rare, frequently there is no signature on them. Punished in 1789 during a period of reforms for his satirical illustrations, he ceased using his Masanobu name and ceased his activities as an Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker. 31
Actor Ichikawa Monnosuke II as Issun Tokubei, a
(approx. 30 x 15 cm) which depicts
a somewhat forlorn character resting his chin on his hands, his elbows
on the carrying pole for two loads of dwarf potted trees and other plants.
A medium grass-leaved plant with a half dozen blades (equivalent to perhaps
30 cm tall) and a tall but thin somewhat rose-like plant (nearly one and
a half meters tall) share the left carrying board with a potted tree.
The latter is in a slightly top-flaring container with lip and dark "drip"
color decoration on its upper half. The tree itself appears to have
a fairly good-sized trunk which comes up into a "Y" a few centimeters above
the soil line – the left branch having been cut off and its stub
covered by a piece of material tied in place, while the right branch extends
up and slightly to the right dividing again. The few leaves seen
suggest a privet.
The Artist: Kitao Masanobu 32
The Work: A fine early print is Three Court Ladies on the Engawa in Winter Time. The center sheet of this triptych shows a medium-sized pine with a large trunk, four distinct foliage layers, and some exposed roots in a deep round pot having a wide lip. The ladies are apparently looking at this snow-covered tree.
The Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni (aka Ichiyosai, 1769-1825) son of a doll-carver, lived and worked in Edo, and was a pupil of Toyoharu. Toyokuni was the most prominent artist of that school. His output of prints, mostly of actors and figure-studies, was enormous -- over ninety print series, many hundreds of other single sheets, over 400 books, and a few paintings for over one hundred publishers -- but varies in quality. In 1794 he began a revolutionary series of actor portraits which would become the standard format in the nineteenth century. He had a large number of pupils himself including Kunisada, Kunimasa, Kuniyasu, and Kuniyoshi, but showed a marked and rapid decline after 1805. (The year before he was one of the artists who were manicled for fifty days for illustrating a politically dangerous figuree in his prints.) 33
The Work: The Hero Asahino Saburo (c.1795), a nishiki-e oban shows the subject reclining on the ground. A long sword rests on a large cloth covered square above him, the point of the scabbard off the left center edge, the handle of the sword arcing over the hero's head. Three thin books lay on the ground in front of him, three small illustrations with verse off of his left elbow, and towards the right corner of the illustration is a scraggly old medium-sized dwarfed plum in a somewhat rude cylindrical pot with thin lip.
The Artist: Torin Tsutsumi (fl.1780-1820), a painter of the Kanō school, he founded a school which produced mainly book-illustrations. He is said to have been one of Hokusai’s teachers. 34
The Work: A writing-box with a fixed frame for the closely fitting inkstone and water-dropper was crafted around the middle of the eighteenth century. The box measures 3.2 cm H x 19.7 cm L x 18.1 cm W. An ornamental pine (with two dozen distinct and needled foliage poms), plants and rocks in sand in a shallow, elliptical three-footed dish decorate the lid. The background is black lacquer dusted with mother-of-pearl, and a design in relief of black lacquer over red and gold. The interior of the box and lid is decorated with a continuous design of individual plants of autumn murakika flower in gold dusted lacquer and red ochre on a ground of dense red-yellow lacquer over gold/silver dusted black lacquer. 35
The Work: A partly snow-covered dwarf pine tree decorates an inro which dates from the eighteenth or nineteenth century. The design on this set of four cases and lid, 3" x 2-3/8" x 1-1/8", is in gold and silver togidashi on a black background. The illusion of snow falling was accomplished by the use of large, irregular flakes of silver dust distributed unevenly over the entire surface. Inro were small, highly lacquered decorated medicine boxes which became popular among the samurai and merchants.
The Artist: Koma Yasutada, a lesser figure in the Koma school of artisans. 36
The Work: "Classic grouping of Beauties... dating from the latter part of the 18th century, entitled Henjo, from the series, The Six Poetic Immortals. A delicate flowering sakura [cherry tree] is overwhelmed in size, coloration and geometry in this very unique pot.... by our contemporary standards of proportion and aesthetic harmony." Three masses of blossoms with a little foliage are seen on the tree placed in a squat, black wooden box with "cloud handles."
The Artist: Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) was born into a high-ranking samurai family belonging to the Fujiwara clan. In 1781 he received a position in the palace of the shogun Tokugawa Icharu, presumably within the department of keeping coloring materials. He first studied painting under Kanō Eisen'in Michinobu (1737-1790). Eishi turned to print design as a student of Torii Bunryūsai, with his earliest work dated 1785. Four years later Eishi retired from service to the shogun and passed the leadership of the family on to his adopted son Tokitoyo. Initially influenced by Kiyonaga, Eishi became a rival to Utamaro and established his own school. He specialized in idealized portraits of beautiful women in an elegant and refined style, mainly in series, mostly in the theōban style, but also made a small number of pillar prints. Active from 1785 until 1801, he also created a few illustrations for books including erotica. He then only did paintings -- for which he is considered as one of the best artists with an enormous output. He had but a small number of students, the better known ones being Eishō and Eiri. 37
The Work: "Komachi, from the same series above, The Six Poetic Immortals. In this instance we are now inside with a view out towards a traditional Japanese garden. Observe the pre-Western perspective construction of the interior architecture so characteristic of the 18th Century prints. While not the primary subject of the picture, a Prunus mume [flowering apricot] occupies space on a table outside contained by a soft ornamented oval, very likely, porcelain pot." The flaring pot has cloud feet and is partly hidden on its right side behind a pillar. The tree is more delicate than this type of dwarf is usually depicted.
The Artist: Chobunsai Eishi 38
1. Mody, N.H.N. A Collection of Nagasaki Colour Prints and Paintings (Rutland, VT and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.; 1969. Original limited edition in 2 volumes, 1939), b&w Plate 46.
2. Mody, Fig. 2 of b&w Plate 51.
3. Art Treasures in the British Isles (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Comapnay; 1969), pg 86 Fig. 128.
4. Bayrd, Edwin and the Editors of the Newsweek Book Division Kyoto (New York: Newsweek; 1974), b&w photo on pp. 118-119, from Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; color version brought to RJB's attention by way of e-mail from Chris Cochrane 20 Sept 2010 with link to Freer/Sackler Gallery;
Official Guide, pp. 26, 190.
5. Kikuchi, Sadao A Treasury of Japanese Wood Block Prints, Ukiyo-e (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.; Translation ©1969 by Tokyo International Publishers, Illustrations ©1963 Kawadeshobo, Tokyo. Translated by Don Kenny), b&w #1402, and pg. 26 location given as Tokyo National Museum;
Stewart, Basil A Guide to Japanese Prints and their Subject Matter (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.1979. Originally published by E.P. Dutton and Company, New York in 1922 as Subjects Portrayed in Japanese Colour-Prints ), pp. 38, 205;
Clark, Timothy Ukiyo-e Paintings in the British Museum (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992), pg. 93;
Marks, Andreas Japanese woodblock prints -- Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900 (Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing; 2010), pg. 41.
7. Marks, pp. 38, 40, 184.
8. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/a-female-version-of-the-n-play-hachinoki-onna-hachinoki--211939. Source given as Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.
9. Kikuchi, pp. 6, 12, 34, 40, and small b&w # 256, which says that the signature on the print is missing, but probably by Kiyomitsu. Print shown is from Tokyo National Museum;
Index of Japanese Painters, compiled by the Society of Friends of Eastern Art (of Toyo Bijutsu Kokusai Kenkyukai)(Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company; 1940. First Tuttle edition published 1958), pg. 63;
Nippon Bonsai Association Classic Bonsai of Japan (Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International; 1989), pg. 146;
Smith, Lawrence (ed.) Ukiyoe, Images of Unknown Japan (London: British Museum Publications Ltd.; 1988), pg. 27;
Marks, pg. 44.
10. Koreshoff, Deborah R. Bonsai: Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy (Brisbane, Australia: Boolarong Publications; 1984), pg. 7, print owned by Ken Yashiroda, per Yashiroda, Bonsai – Japanese Miniature Trees (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), pg. 21;
The Subject section quotes from Itō Ihei A Brocade Pillow, Azaleas of Old Japan (New York/Tokyo: Weatherhill; 1984. Translation by Kaname Kato), pp. vii, xi, xiii, xxi-xxii; Smith (ed.), pg. 26;
Index SFEA, pp. 63, 64;
Chikinshō info from Vertrees, J.D. Japan Maples, Momiji and Kaede (Portland, OR: Timber Press; 1978, 1987), pp. 8-9, 139;
Naka, John and Richard K. Ota and Kenko Rokkaku Bonsai Techniques for Satsuki (Ota Bonsai Nursery; 1979), pg. 32;
Bartlett, Harley Harris and Hide Shohara Japanese Botany During the Period of Wood-Block Printing (Los Angeles: Dawson's Book Shop; 1961. Reprinted from ASA GRAY BULLETIN, N.S. 3: 289-561, Spring 1961), pp. 114, 122-125, the last 2 pages having illustrations of;
Kaempfer, Engelbert, M.D. The History of Japan (Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons; Second full reprint March 1906), Vol. I, pg. 184;
Bonsai, BCI, May/June 1993, pg. 23, which lists the first work as Kadan Jikinsho by Iemon Ito.
11. Cahill, James Scholar Painters of Japan: The Nanga School (New York: Asia House Gallery; 1972), pp. 17, 22, with b&w on pg. 19 of scrolls in the Japanese Imperial Household Collection, from Tokyo National Museum, Nihon Nanga-shu (Collection of Japanese Nanga), Tokyo, 1951, Plate 3;
"From the beginning" quote from Twelve Centuries of Japanese Art from the Imperial Collections (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution; 1997), pp. 168-169, color on pg. 169;
Paine, Robert Treat and Alexander Soper The Art and Architecture of Japan (NY: Penguin Books; 1981, Third edition), pp. 236-237;
Index SFEA, pg. 60.
12. Kikuchi, pg. 7 and Color Plate 8;
Muneshige, pp. 56-57 in color, from Tokyo National Museum;
Index SFEA, pg. 80;
Japan, The Official Guide (Tokyo: Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways; 1933, 1941), pp. 167-168.
13. Keyes, # 106, pg. 144 (Ainsworth A110);
Smith (ed.) pp. 25-26;
Index SFEA, pg. 127;
Marks, pg. 56.
14. Kikuchi, # 352 and 353, from Tokyo National Museum; Classic, pg. 146, b&w;
Lesniewicz, Paul Bonsai: The Complete Guide to Art & Technique (Poole, Dorset: Blandford Press; 1984) pg. 7, color of most of left panel from a private collection;
Lesniewicz, Paul and Hideo Kato Practical Bonsai, Their Care, Cultivation and Training (London: W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd; 1991), pg. 9
Kunio Kobayashi Bonsai (PIE International; 2011), pg. 11 (image on pg. 10);
17. Kikuchi, # 349 from an anonymous private collection.
18. Titley, Norah and Frances Wood Oriental Gardens, An Illustrated History (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; 1991), pg. 117, Fig. "110 A bonsai establishment in 18th-century Edo (Tokyo). Coloured woodblock print from Ehon Toto meisho (Famous sights of Edo), c.1770; per 12/05/06 post on Asian Art Forum by Hans Olof Johansson in response to RJB query, the above identification w/color image © 2006 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
19. Keyes, Roger S. Surimono, Privately Published Japanese Prints in the Spencer Museum of Art Tokyo/New York: Kodansha International Ltd.; 1984), # 111, pg. 145 (Ainsworth A184); Index, SFEA, pg. 15. Charles E. Tuttle Company; 1940. First Tuttle edition published 1958), pg. 68; Marks, pp. 48, 50, 51.
20. Marks, pp. 68-69.
21. Kunio Kobayashi Bonsai (PIE International; 2011), pg. 8 (image on pg. 9);
B&w photo on cover of American Bonsai Society Bonsai Journal, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 1978. Caption inside front cover. From the collection of E.M. Watzik;
Stewart, Basil, pg, 354 which has biography (and older spelling as "Yeishosai");
Marks, pp. 82, 182, 204-205.
22. Naka, John Yoshio Bonsai Techniques II (Bonsai Institute of California; 1982), pg. 305, fig. 667;
Lesniewicz, Paul (ed.) The World of Bonsai (London: Blandford Press; 1990), pg. 105;
Kunio Kobayashi Bonsai (PIE International; 2011), pg. 3 (image on pg. 2);
Index SFEA, pg. 64;
Marks, pg. 72.
23. Faulkner, Rupert Masterpieces of Japanese Prints, The European Collections (Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.; 1991), color Fig. 35 on pg. 68 and notes on pg. 140.
24. Hájek, Lubor Japanese Graphic Arts (London: Octopus Books Limited; 1976. Translated by Helena Krejcová), Plate 39.
25. Smith (ed.) Ukiyoe, pg. 165, small black on sepia Fig. 17.
26. Kikuchi, pg. 6 and # 972, from Tokyo National Museum.
Tray Landscapes (Bonkei and Bonseki)
(Tokyo: Japan Travel Bureau; 1955, 1956, 1962, 1966), pg. 183, color Fig.
1, pp. xvi-xvii.
Marks, pg. 76.
28. Hillier, J. Utamaro, Colour Prints and Paintings (Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited; 1961. Published in the U.S. by E.P. Dutton, New York. Second edition 1979), b&w, Fig. 29, pp. 44-45; Hale, William Harlan and The Editors of Horizon Magazine The Horizon Cookbook (American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.; 1968), pg. 217;
right-hand panel in Nippon Bonsai Association Classic, b&w on pg. 152 ; Smith (ed.), pg. 32;
Index SFEA, pp. 131-132.
29. Hillier, b&w Fig. 83, pg. 129; a slightly smaller but color copy is given with the title Moonlight Revelry in Japan on pg. 102 of Time-Life Library of Nations, from Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution.
30. Sent to RJB by Daniel Dolan of the Midwest Bonsai Society on 19 Nov 2009. Courtesy of Stuart Jackson Gallery, for educational use only, by prior agreement with Midwest Bonsai Society.
See also this other print in the series of seven.
Kunio Kobayashi Bonsai (PIE International; 2011), pg. 5 (image on pg. 4) gives title as Tosei Zashiki Hakkei (Eight Contemporary Views of the Parlor);
31. Kikuchi, pg. 14 and small b&w Fig. 439, location given as Tokyo National Museum; Stewart, pg. 358; Clark, pp. 26, 110, 137.
32. Kikuchi, pg. 20 and small b&w Fig. 959, location given as Tokyo National Museum.
33. Stewart, b&w Plate 30-2; Index SFEA, pg. 126; Clark, pg. 134.
Marks, pg. 96.
34. Hájek, b&w Fig. 59 ; Stewart, pg. 361; Clark, pg. 143.
35. Herberts, K. Oriental Lacquer, Art and Technique (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; 1962), pp. 93-94, location given as from collection of Dr. K. Herberts, Wuppertal.
36. Jahss, Melvin and Betty Inro and Other Miniature Forms of Japanese Lacquer Art (Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1971), b&w photo on pg. 166, Fig. 116, additional notes from pp. 193, 464;
Official Guide, pg. 176.
37. From "Katsura Forest" by Daniel Dolan, http://www.katsuraforest.com/print03.htm;
Marks, pg. 86.
38. From "Katsura Forest" by Daniel Dolan, http://www.katsuraforest.com/print04.htm.