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Hishikawa Moronobu, Craftsmen of Various Trades, a pair of handscroll paintings

 

Height: 275.000 mm (1st scroll)
Length: 8330.000 mm (1st scroll)
Height: 275.000 mm (1st scroll)
Length: 8330.000 mm (1st scroll)

Asia JA JP ADD25 (1923.11-14.02.1);Asia JA JP ADD26 (1923.11-14.02.2)

    Hishikawa Moronobu, Craftsmen of Various Trades, a pair of handscroll paintings

    Japan
    Genroku era (AD 1688-1704)

    A paper-making workshop

    This scene of a paper-making workshop is taken from the second of two scrolls illustrating artisans of various trades. To the right are the boards used for drying the paper and three people involved in this process. Inside the workshop a man leans over a vat to stretch a sheet and to his right the owner breaks off momentarily from his task of cutting to quench his thirst. Finally, a young girl stands packing the finished product.

    The scrolls depict over fifty-two trades in all, including brush-makers, dyers, street entertainers, sword polishers, sake makers, and florists. Most of the scenes are set in workshops with their front wall or screens removed, so that those inside can be seen at work.

    Moronobu (died 1694) was a pioneer of Ukiyo-e paintings and prints, and his studio produced various types of genre scenes, portraying life in Edo (modern Tokyo) and all its amusements. He was one of very few artists after the medieval period (twelfth to sixteenth centuries), however, to take up the theme of 'scenes of craftsmen' (shokunin-zukushi) in both paintings and illustrated books.

    The signature reads 'Hishikawa Moronobu zu', and the seal reads 'Hishikawa'. However, certain inconsistencies in the drawing of the faces, and the hurried treatment of elements such as the trees, have led to the suggestion that the scrolls were produced by Moronobu's studio rather than Moronobu himself.

    I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)

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