- Museum number
Pair of handscrolls, painting. Scenes of pleasure in Edo, indoors and out, in spring and early summer: (First scroll) auspicious scenes of New Year games of shuttlecock and battledore; indoor games of backgammon and cards, pair of mendicant musicians; woman painting a standing screen surrounded by audience of courtesans; (Second scroll) outdoor scenes: woman of noble household arriving in palanquin with retinue to view cherry blossom; boisterous partying and circle dance under trees; puppet shows, peepshows, performing monkey and magic tricks for groups of women and children; young master on shoulders of retainer. Ink, colour and gold on paper. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
- 1716-1736 (c.)
Height: 40.10 centimetres (c. each)
Width: 510 centimetres (c. each)
- Curator's comments
This is one from a pair of grand handscrolls showing amusements of townspeople in Edo at the New Year and cherry-viewing season, a repertoire inherited by Choshun from his predecessor Hishikawa Moronobu (d.1694). The first scroll opens with women playing shuttlecock and battledore surrounded by New Year decorations and watched by a crowd of women and children. (Label copy, TTC 2000)
One of the glories of the British Museum's Ukiyo-e painting collection, this pair of handscrolls show Choshun's mature style at its most accomplished in scenes of pleasure in Edo, indoors and out, in spring and early summer. The first scroll opens with auspicious scenes of New Year games of shuttlecock and battledore, proceeds through indoor games of backgammon and cards, a pair of mendicant musicians, and concludes with a scene of a woman painting a standing screen ('tsuitate') surrounded by an audience of indolent courtesans. The second scroll consists entirely of outdoor scenes: a woman of a noble household arriving in a palanquin with her retinue to view the cherry blossom and boisterous partying and a circle dance under the trees; followed by puppet shows, peepshows, a dressed monkey and magic tricks for the benefit of groups of women and children. The scene ends with the young master of one household hoisted up on the shoulders of a retainer hurrying in to join the fun - hinting that these scrolls were painted for some samurai household.
Particularly apparent is Choshun's skill at combining his figures into relaxed and natural groupings which interact with intelligence and grace in an entirely convincing manner, setting up wonderful flowing rhythms along the scrolls. Many of these groupings, such as the three cherry-viewing women who open the second scroll, derive from the repertoire established by Moronobu (compare no. 6). Each ample figure is outlined with the minimum number of fluid strokes, the brilliant patterning of the robes used to suggest the pose of the body underneath, and these brilliant figures are set off against a light and airy background of misty gold washes and a succession of deftly drawn-in trees which enter alternately from the top and the bottom of the scroll. Every tiny detail - be it picnic box or children's toy -is a marvel of execution.
For other handscrolls by Choshun on similar themes see Kikuchi Sadao, 'Kobijutsu', 36 (1971), pp. 94-8, and UT, vol. 10 (1987), no. 3.
Anderson, William, 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, nos 1707, 1708.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, nos 98-100.
Smith, Lawrence, 'Japanese Art: Masterpieces in the British Museum', with Victor Harris and Timothy Clark. London, British Museum Publications, 1990, no. 193.
Tokyo-to Bijutsukan (eds), 'Daiei Hakubutsukan hizo Edo bijutsu ten'. Exh. cat., 9 Aug.-24 Sept. 1990, no. 9.
長春は、知的かつ優雅、そしてなるほどと思わせるような見事な手法で人物を組合せ、ゆったりとした自然なまとまりを作り出し、巻物に沿って流れるような美しいリズムを組み立てる。その技術の冴えは、本図に遺憾なく発揮されているといえるだろう。第2巻の巻頭に描かれる3人の花見を楽しむ女たちなど、人物グループの多くは師宣のレパートリーの中から引用されている（No.9参照）。ふくよかな人物はいずれも最小限の流麗な筆で描き出され、衣服の描写は下に隠れた体の動きを常に感じさせて素晴らしい。これらの人物の背景には薄く金泥が引かれ、画面に明るく爽やかな感じを与えている。また画巻の天地から樹々が交互に枝を伸ばす。弁当箱であれ子供の玩具であれ、いかなる細部もきちんと仕上げられている（同じような主題を扱った長春の別の画巻については、以下の論文を参照のこと[。] 菊池貞夫『古美術』第36号 1971年 94－8項[。] 楢崎宗重監修「秘蔵浮世絵大観」第10巻 1987年 講談社 3図）。
Smith et al 1990
Painted scenes of pleasures and pastimes associated with the various seasons and months of the year ('shiki fuzoku-e' or 'tsukinami fuzoku-e') were popular at least as early as the courtly Heian period (794-1185); and although eighteenth-century Ukiyo-e artists tended to focus mainly on the twin worlds of the pleasure quarters and Kabuki theatres, there remained a more basic market for general depictions of seasonal events in and around the city of Edo.
Miyagawa Choshun was one of the major Ukiyo-e painters of the first half of the eighteenth century, rather unusual in that he designed no woodblock prints, albums or illustrated books. Choshun's paintings show the pervasive influence of Hishikawa Moronobu (c. 1618-94) in their style, choice of subject-matter and formats. Certain groups of figures, indeed, are copied almost unchanged from works by the earlier master.
In the first scroll (illustrated) elegantly dressed families engage in indoor and outdoor games and pastimes associated with the New Year holidays - battlecock and shuttledore, bouncing ball, backgammon, cards, painting, etc. - while the second scroll shows scenes of lively parties and dancing under the blossoming cherry trees in the hilly Ueno district in the north of Edo.
Like Moronobu before him, Choshun was a master of the arrangement of figures into lively groups; each figure is economically drawn with a few calligraphic lines and with a keen eye to the rich harmonies of kimono fabrics which, as so often in Ukiyo-e painting, are the most keenly felt subject of the whole work. The comparatively large size of the figures suggests an early date within Choshun's career, perhaps the 1720s.
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 2
This picture scroll, which forms part of the Anderson Collection, is believed to have been acquired by Anderson during a stay in Japan from 1873 to 1880, in the early Meiji period. William Anderson (1842-1900), a Scottish doctor with a deep interest in Japanese culture, seems to have been fond of collecting this kind of genre picture scroll, not only for their intrinsic artistic value but also as visual evidence of manners and customs in the Japan of the "good old days" before it came into contact with modern Western civilization.
The first of the two scrolls depicts various amusements and accomplishments, both indoor and outdoor, associated with the New Year or early spring, while the second scroll shows people enjoying themselves in various ways on an eminence with cherry trees (probably the Ueno hill in Edo) in full bloom on a balmy spring day, together with roadside entertainers performing for the benefit of these visitors.
The handling of the subject - although the base is paper, the work uses gold paint on the ground and rich colouring, again including gold and silver, on the costumes of the figures - is in the typical style of Miyagawa Choshun, an 'ukiyo-e' artist who specialized in paintings; the work can probably be attributed to the Kyoho era (1716-36), when Choshun was at his best.
'1707 and 1708. Copies from Chō-shun, probably executed early in the nineteenth century. The copies are carefully made, but signature & seal badly imitated.' (unattributed annotations in the specially interleaved Japanese Study Room copy of Anderson 1886)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 24 Mar-26 Jun, London, BM, Japanese Galleries, 'Japan Time' [opening scene]
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1390 (Japanese Painting Number)
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1391 (Japanese Painting Number)