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Ukita Ikkei, Annual Events at the Imperial Court, an album of paintings

 

Height: 260.000 mm
Width: 340.000 mm

Asia JA JP ADD684 (1982.6-28.01)

    Ukita Ikkei, Annual Events at the Imperial Court, an album of paintings

    Japan
    Late Edo period, mid-19th century AD

    A folding album of 12 paintings

    Ukita Ikkei (1795-1859) was a leading member of a group of artists working at the end of the Edo period, who sought to revive the ancient painting styles of Yamato-e from the Heian (794-1185) and Kamakura (1185-1333) periods. This style, called 'Yamato-e Revival' (Fukko Yamato-e), had strong connections with the imperial court in Kyoto, where Ikkei was employed as an artist, and this album presents scenes of life at the emperor's court in ancient times, and of the annual observances made throughout the year.

    The page illustrated here is the fourth month, when the emperor inspected the horses of the imperial stables in the Komahiki ('colt-leading') ceremony. An official wearing formal dress of the Heian period is seated on a horse, being led by a groom. The scene has been sketched quickly and lightly, with soft, pale colouring.

    As the shogunal regime began to lose its grip on power in the mid-nineteenth century, those calling for the 'restoration' of the emperor grew in number. Ikkei participated in the political activities of the time, and was imprisoned. He died shortly after release. The subject and style of the album thus reflect both the aspirations of the imperial faction at the time as well as Ikkei's own personal allegiances.

    The seals together read 'Yoshitame' (one of Ikkei's art-names). Other pages in the album are also signed 'Ikkei'.

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