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Aburaya Osome, Kogai Hisamatsu 油屋お染 小かい久松 (Aburaya Osome and Kogai Hisamatsu) / Chiwa kagami tsuki no murakumo 千話鏡月の村雲 (Models of Love-talk: Clouds Form over the Moon)

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Aburaya Osome, Kogai Hisamatsu 油屋お染 小かい久松 (Aburaya Osome and Kogai Hisamatsu)

    Title (series)

    • Chiwa kagami tsuki no murakumo 千話鏡月の村雲 (Models of Love-talk: Clouds Form over the Moon)
  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. Old man reading letter; lovers Osome and Hisamatsu, whispering behind his back and communicating by hand gestures. Inscribed, signed and marked.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1798-1800 (ca.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 38.2 centimetres
    • Width: 25.7 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, top left, in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        油屋お染 小かい久松
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Aburaya Osome, Kogai Hisamatsu
      • Inscription Translation

        Aburaya Osome and Kogai Hisamatsu
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, left
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Utamaro hitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        Brush by Utamaro
      • Inscription Comment

        Without the 'akubi' (yawning) element on right-hand side of the 'Uta' character.
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom left
      • Inscription Comment

        Mark of the publisher, Yamaguchiya Chusuke.
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, top left, in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Chiwa kagami tsuki no murakumo
      • Inscription Translation

        Models of Love-talk: Clouds Form over the Moon
  • Curator's comments

    Asano and Clark 1995

    A series of half-length portraits of groups of three people, young couples from famous love stories with one extra person introduced into the composition. ‘Chiwa’ of the title means "lovers' talk" and the ‘tsuki no murakumo’, "clouds form over the moon", alludes to, the interfering third party. A total of fourteen designs are known, published jointly by Yamaguchiya Chusuke and Enshuya Matabei. The designs published by Enshuya are: "Aburaya Osome and Nikai Hisamatsu" (Aburaya Osome, Nikai Hisamatsu), "Minoya Sankatsu, Akaneya Hanshichi and Imaichi Zen'emon" (Minoya Sankatsu, Akaneya Hanshichi, Imaichi Zen'emon), "Tsuruya Onoe, Naraya Idahachi and the Mistress of the Teahouse" (Tsuruya Onoe, Naraya Idahachi, chaya nyobo), "Oshichi the Greengrocer's Daughter, Kichisaburo the Boy-servant and Dozaemon Denkichi" (Yaoya Oshichi, Kosho Kichisaburo, Dozaemon Denkichi), "Ohan, Choemon and his Wife Okinu" (Ohan, Choemon, nyobo Okinu), "Wakanaya Wakakusa and Ukiyo Inosuke" (Wakanaya Wakakusa, Ukiyo Inosuke). The designs published by Yamaguchiya are: "His Wife Ochiyo, Hambei the greengrocer and Hambei's mother" (Nyobo Ochiyo, Yaoya Hambei, Hambei haha), "The Courtesan Kiyokawa, Karigane Bunshichi and Kaminari Shokuro" (Keisei Kiyokawa, Karigane Bunshichi, Kaminari Shokuro), "Shirokiya Okoma, Obana Saizaburo and the Shop Clerk Johachi" (Shirokiya Okoma, Obana Saizaburo, tedai Johachi), "The Courtesan Agemaki, the Ruffian Hero Sukeroku and Hige no Ikyu" (Keisei Agemaki, otokodate Sukeroku, Hige no Ikyu), "Yugiri of the Ogiya, Fujiya Izaemon and the Mistress of the Yoshidaya" (Ogiya Yugiri, Fujiya Izaemon, Yoshidaya nyobo), "The Courtesan Umegawa, Chubei of the Courier Firm and Magoemon" (Keisei Umegawa, hikyakuya Chubei, Magoemon), "Kakogawa Konami, Oboshi Rikiya and the Maidservant Suki), (Kakogawa Konami, Oboshi Rikiya, gejo Suki), “Komurasaki of the Miuraya, Shirai Gompachi, and Mamushi no Jihei" (Miuraya Komurasaki, Shirai Gompachi, Mamushi no Jihei).

    "Osome and Hisamatsu" is the popular name given to the plays for the puppet and Kabuki stages which treated the love-suicide between Osome, the daughter of a pawnbroker in Osaka and Hisamatsu, a clerk in the business — as well as being the names of the main protagonists. While the two communicate surreptitiously using hand gestures, the old man beside them is intently reading a letter. The old man is probably Hisamatsu's father Kyusaku, a farmer of Nozaki Village.

    Shibui, Kiyoshi 渋井清, 'Ukiyo-e zuten, vol. 13: Utamaro' 「ウキヨエ図典13 歌麿」, Kazama Shobo, Tokyo, 1964, pl. 101-1-1.
    "Kitagawa Utamaro sakuhin mokuroku" 「喜多川歌麿作品目録」, 'Ukiyo-e shuka', 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 3 (Bosuton Bijutsukan III ボストン美術館3), Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978, pp. 235-254, pl. 414-1.
    'Ukiyo-e shuka' 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 3, Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978-85, pl. 190.
    Smith, Lawrence, ed., ‘Ukiyoe: Images of Unknown Japan’, BMP, London, 1988, no. 100.

    Other impressions:
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
    Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Bruxelles.

    [Main text translated in Japanese below / 以下上記本文日本語訳]

    浅野/クラーク 1995

    情話の相愛の男女に、もう一人混入させて三人の半身図としたシリーズ。千話は痴話、月の村雲は邪悪な第三者の意味に用いられていると考えられる。山口屋忠助と遠州屋又兵衛の共同出版で、14図が確認されている。「油屋お染 小かい久松」「ミの屋三勝 あかね屋半七 今市善右衛門」「鶴屋尾上 奈良や伊太八 茶屋女房」「八百屋お七 小将吉三郎 土左衛門伝吉」「お半 長右衛門 女房おきぬ」「若那屋若草 浮世伊之助」••••••以上遠州屋版。「女房お千代 八百屋半兵衛 半兵衛母」「契情清川 かりかね文七 雷り庄九郎」「城木屋お駒 尾花才三郎 手代丈八」「けいせいあけ巻 男達助六 髭の意久」「扇屋夕霧 ふしや伊左衛門 よし田屋女房」「けいせい梅川 ひきやくや忠兵衛 孫右衛門」「加古川小なみ 大星力弥 下女すき」「三浦屋小むら咲 白井権八 まむしの次兵衛」••••••以上山口屋版。

    “お染•久松”は、宝永年間(1704~11)にあった、大坂瓦屋橋の油屋の娘お染とそこの丁稚久松との心中事件に取材した浄瑠璃•戯曲の通称、及びその主人公の名前である。手振りを交えてこっそり話をする二人の傍らで老爺が一心に文を読んでいる。この老爺は野崎村の百姓久作であろうか。Smith 1988

    From the series 'A Mirror of Flirting Lovers' depicting sad stories of urban love. The true story happened about 1708, when the son of an oil-merchant (shown here in spectacles) fell in love with a girl disapproved of by the father. The interfering old man is the 'cloud over the moon' of the second part of the series title. The print is signed 'The brush of Utamaro'.This print series features love stories from popular puppet and kabuki plays. Currently fourteen designs are known. The phrase 'tsuki ni murakumo' means, literally, ‘clouds that block the moon’s light’ and, by extension, that love is often hindered unexpectedly by someone. So, each image has a third person, who is the interfering figure in the plot. The lovers Osome, the daughter of an oil merchant, and Hisamatsu, an employee of the shop, are portrayed as young and innocent, and it is this very youthful innocence that leads to their tragedy. Their story was the basis for many puppet and kabuki plays, and was made extremely popular during this period through other urban performing arts, such as uta-saimon, a style of singing performed at banquets and as a street entertainment. Even a shunga version of the lovers’ meeting is depicted in a print by Shigemasa (Clark et al 2013, cat. 97). In the drama, Hisamatsu gets locked inside a large storehouse, but sticking his head out of a high window he and Osome are able to signal their commitment to a love-suicide pact. The print here shows Hisamatsu above Osome, echoing this famous scene. Other prints in the series name the third, interfering person but that is not the case here. The old man could be either Osome’s father, Ta’emon, or Hisamatsu’s father, Kyu-saku – both appear in the story. [MR]


  • Bibliography

    • Smith 1988 100 bibliographic details
    • Asano & Clark 1995 347 bibliographic details
    • Clark et al 2013 Cat. 96 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2013 3 Oct - 2014 5 Jan, London, BM, Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art, 1600-1900
    2001, 30 Jan-8 Apr, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Arts of Japan: Recently repaired paintings, Ukiyo-e IV'

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    14 August 2002

    Reason for treatment


    Treatment proposal

    Clean mount


    Print in good condition

    Treatment details

    Clean mount

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Osome and Hisamatsu お染•久松 (play)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Woodblock. Popular culture. An old man reading a letter, with the lovers whispering behind his back. Nishiki-e on paper.


Woodblock. Popular culture. An old man reading a letter, with the lovers whispering behind his back. Nishiki-e on paper.

Image description



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