Kanō Kyūei, Scenes along the Length of the Sumida River, a set of 3 handscroll paintings

Hōreki era (AD 1751-64) - early Meiwa era (1764-71)

The Sumida River was, and remains, the main waterway of Edo (modern Tokyo). It runs through Shitamachi, the low-lying merchant and artisan district in the eastern part of the city, and during the Edo period (1600-1868) provided both water transportation and a setting for people's enjoyment through the seasons. By the mid-eighteenth century, Edo had grown into an enormous city of over one million inhabitants and developed its own distinctive culture; people began to take pride in the river, and view it as a suitable theme for depiction in art. These scrolls are among the earliest detailed depictions of the Sumida River presently known.

This set of scrolls describes the appearance of the river's banks in all four seasons. The first scroll moves downstream from the upper reaches of the western bank, the second starts downstream and moves up the eastern bank. The third continues on from where the first left off, travelling further downstream on the western bank, and finishing with an auspicious view of Mt. Fuji.

The scene here is taken from the second scroll, and shows Ryōgoku Bridge (Ryōgoku-bashi). All three great bridges that crossed the Sumida (a fourth was added in 1774) are depicted partly from below, so as to display fully their structural magnificence and strength. People crossing the bridge are described very carefully, with clear distinctions as to social status, occupation, age, and sex.

The signature reads 'Fujiwara Kyūei sha'. The seals read 'Fujiwara shi' and 'Arinari'. These are thought to indicate Kanō Kyūei Tanenobu (dates unknown), the fourth generation head of the Honjō Midori-chō branch of the Kanō school.

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More information


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

T. Kobayashi, '"Sumida-gawa ryogan zukan" no seiritsu to tenkai', Kokka, 1172 (July 1993), pp. 8-9


Width: 312.000 mm (each)
Length: 9057.000 mm (first scroll)
Length: 9057.000 mm (first scroll)
Length: 9057.000 mm (first scroll)

Museum number

Asia JA JP 805-7 (1881.12-10.01434)


William Anderson Collection


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