- Museum number
Colour woodblock oban triptych print. Travellers at Enoshima: Collection of elegantly dressed pilgrim travellers waiting at tea-stall at Katase Beach; seven women and one young man taking off hat, fanning breast, wiping perspiration, smoking pipe and re-tying sandal; more tourists watching boys swimming and looking across towards island; snow-capped Mt Fuji in distance. Signed, marked and inscribed.
- Production date
- 1788-1789 (c.)
Height: 37 centimetres (each)
Width: 24.50 centimetres (each)
- Curator's comments
The island of Enoshima near Kamakura was within easy reach of Edo (Tokyo). It had a fine view of Mount Fuji, and the shrine on the island to Benzaiten (a patron of wealth and music) was particularly popular with women, who could combine a trip with devotion. The island could be reached by foot at low tide. Kiyonaga's big populated views are the predecessors of the true landscape prints of fifty years later. The print is signed 'Painted by Kiyonaga'.
The view is more or less the same as the previous, but down at ground level, at Katase Beach. A collection of elegantly dressed pilgrim travellers from the city wait at a tea-stall for low-tide, when they will be able to cross the causeway to the sacred island of Enoshima. The seven women and one young man (standing, centre) all exhibit carefully orchestrated reactions to the exertions of travel in the entirely natural, undemonstrative manner of Kiyonaga's lovely figure style at its most accomplished: a hat is taken off, a breast fanned, perspiration wiped after carrying the palanquin, a pipe smoked and a sandal re-tied. The scantily clad boy from a fishing village draws the attention of the travellers to some attraction outside the frame and down by the shoreline more tourists watch boys swimming and look across towards the shrine gate and bustling hostelries on the island itself. Much more prominent than in reality, snow-capped Mt Fuji, framed by the reed blinds of the tea-stall, serves here perhaps as a symbol of the freedom of travel, away from closely constrained city life in populous Edo.
It was in the second half of the 1780s that Kiyonaga perfected his mature style, combining friezes of elegant figures in the foreground with wide, panoramic landscape perspectives across the back of the new format of the 'oban' triptych print. The faces and bodily proportions of the figures are uniformly idealized and the graceful eloquence of their poses and gestures effortlessly guides the eye across the wide format. In her comprehensive biography and catalogue raisonné of Kiyonaga, Hirano Chieko dated this work to 1789, a dating which has been more or less followed by scholars ever since (Chie Hirano, 'Kiyonaga: A Study of his Life and Work', 2 vols, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press (tor the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), 1939, no. 888, pl. LXXVI). The impression of the print in the Spaulding Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is miraculously un-faded and shows the original cheerful colouring in bright red, yellow, indigo, purple and green ('Ukiyo-e shuka, vol. 2: Bosuton Bijutsukan' (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), 1985, nos 8-10 (commentary by Money L. Hickman)). Across the centre of the sky in the right and left sheets are clouds of carefully wiped blue, probably printed using the 'atenashi-bokashi' technique of freely brushing pigment onto a dampened block. In the British Museum's somewhat faded impression, these clouds have been reinforced at a later date with hand-painted pale blue pigment.
The publisher responsible for issuing this design, Nishimuraya Yohachi I (Eijudo), is shown seated in front of a screen painted with Mt Fuji in a printed portrait by Toyokuni, issued to mark Eijudo's seventy-first birthday in about 1797-8 (fig. 7, p. 19).
Binyon, Laurence. 'A Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Woodcuts in the British Museum'. London, British Museum, 1916, [Kiyonaga] no. 52.
Ueno no Mori Bijutsukan, eds. 'Daiei Hakubutsukan shozo ukiyo-e meisaku ten'. Tokyo, 1985, no. 77.
'Hizo ukiyo-e taikan. vol. 2, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 154 (commentary by Nishiyama Matsunosuke).
Smith, Lawrence. 'Ukiyo-e: Images of Unknown Japan'. London, British Museum Press, 1988, no. 77.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, 11 May-29 Jul, BM Japanese Galleries, '100 Views of Mount Fuji'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: B52