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Sugimura Jihei (attributed to), 'Tokiwa at Fushimi' (Fushimi Tokiwa), a woodblock print

 

Length: 555.000 mm
Width: 305.000 mm

Purchased with the assistance of the Brooke Sewell Fund

Asia JA 1968.10-14.02

    Sugimura Jihei (attributed to), 'Tokiwa at Fushimi' (Fushimi Tokiwa), a woodblock print

    Japan
    Edo period, around AD 1690

    Very few large sheet-prints survive by the pioneering print artists of the late seventeenth century, Hishikawa Moronobu (died 1694) and Sugimura Jihei. This is the only known impression of this rare work attributed to Jihei, who worked between 1680 and 1705. Slight hand-colouring has been added after printing.

    The subject is from the touching story of Tokiwa, who was the mistress of the warrior Minamoto no Yoshitomo. After Yoshitomo's defeat in the Heiji war of 1159, she fled with her three sons and was given shelter from a snowstorm by an old couple at Fushimi. The tale became popular among ballad singers, and this print may have been produced to accompany such a recitation. Tokiwa is shown leading two of her sons by the hand, buffeted by a snow-laden gust. She carries her third at her breast, snuggled inside the collar of her kimono. In the background the old couple sit cosily in their humble hut, the old man stirring the charcoal in the hibachi. Tokiwa is not dressed in costume of the twelfth century, but in a kimono fashionable at the time that the print was made.

    L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

    M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)

    L. Smith (ed.), Ukiyo-e images of unknown Japa (London, The British Museum Press, 1988/89)

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