- Museum number
Painting, two sections of a handscroll mounted as two-panel screen. Scenes of pleasure in spring and summer: (right) exterior and interior of room looking onto garden with stream; men and women drinking; woman playing shamisen; (left) people dancing in a circle (furyu odori) beneath cherry blossom to musical accompaniment. Ink and colour on paper.
- Production date
Height: 31.70 centimetres (c. each)
Width: 76.60 centimetres (c. each)
- Curator's comments
These two sections from a handscroll, now mounted on a low two-fold screen, are unsigned but may be attributed to Miyagawa Choshun. They would appear to date from a period early in his career, however, when his figure style and choice of subjects were still heavily influenced by Hishikawa Moronobu - so heavily influenced, indeed, that the one former owner, Arthur Morrison, attributed them to Moronobu (Morrison 1911, vol. 2, pl. IX). Certain small motifs, such as the manner of painting tufts of grass on the left section, can be linked to the early painting by Choshun in the Toyama Kinenkan ('NU', vol. 3 (1982), no. 14), though the present painting does not match the limpid brush work of the Toyama work.
On the right young couples are shown relaxing in a room opening on to a verandah and river scene. A woman reclining on the corner of the verandah offers a pipe to two women standing admiring the flowering cherry. On the left eleven figures are engaged in a lively circle dance (compare with the Moronobu painting, no. 6) with musical accompaniment provided by a group of young men. Such scenes of carefree pleasures in spring and summer were the staple of screens and handscrolls by Moronobu.
An almost identical composition with the right-hand section is reproduced as part of a handscroll of 'Amusements of the Seasons' by Choshun ('Collection of the Mitsukoshi Dry Goods co.') in 'Kokka', 184 (1905), p. 90. In 'Kokka' magazine this work is reproduced by techniques of colour woodblock printing, however, and until the original painting comes to light once more it would be unwise to comment on their relative merits.
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 2
In its present form, this work is a single, two-fold screen, but the proportions of the sheets of paper on which the pictures are painted and the nature of the pictures themselves suggest that they were originally part of a handscroll. The picture on the right-hand leaf shows the exterior and interior of a room looking onto a garden with a stream. The men and women pouring sake for each other, and the woman playing the shamisen, show at a glance that this is a scene in the pleasure quarters. The flowing water and the garden with its skillful use of the distant hills in the background as part of the view are of course pure artistic fiction. The room is most likely intended to suggest a geisha house in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter; similar gardens are a regular feature of picture scrolls showing Yoshiwara done by artists of the Hishikawa Moronobu school, Miyagawa Choshun, and others.
The painting on the left-hand screen shows people dancing beneath the cherry blossom, with figures representing various social classes dancing in a ring to the accompaniment of 'shakuhachi', hand drums, and shamisen. Such scenes showing people dancing in a circle are a regular feature of genre pictures by Moronobu and later artists.
The fact that these two scenes, dealing respectively with the pleasure quarters and cherry-blossom viewing, both emphasize the pleasure-loving aspect suggests that the original picture scroll - there are many similar examples - consisted of a series of scenes illustrating manners and customs of the Edo period. The complete work might well have included - though this is pure speculation - a scene in a Kabuki theater together with views of the embankment along which one approached the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter, the main gateway to the quarter, and finally its main thoroughfare.
The scroll is unsigned, but the first artist who comes to mind is Hishikawa Moronobu or a member of his school. Here and there among the human figures, however, one finds faces faintly reminiscent of the style of Miyagawa Choshun - for example, the young man shown at the bottom right of the circular dance, with his somewhat pear-shaped face and his almond eyes turning up at the outer corners. In addition, the treatment of the branches of the pines and cherry trees in the circular dance scene also recalls forms often found in pictures by Choshun. If the artist is indeed Choshun, then the work might be placed comparatively early in his career, around the last decade of the seventeenth century.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1368 (Japanese Painting Number)