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Yonen jidai no Sesshu (The Child Sesshu) / Ichimoku-shu (First Thursday Collection, Vol 4)

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Yonen jidai no Sesshu (The Child Sesshu)

    Title (series)

    • Ichimoku-shu (First Thursday Collection, Vol 4)
  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. Young Buddhist monk tied to pillar, crying, next to image of rat (story of young Sesshu). Unnumbered. Inscribed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1948
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 34.6 centimetres
    • Width: 27.6 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        top left
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Yonen jidai no Sesshu
      • Inscription Comment

        incorporated into image
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

      • Inscription Comment

        artist's seal
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        reverse, bottom left
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Comment

        seal of the Vergez Collection
  • Curator's comments

    Smith 2002

    The pigments are very thick, and some have soaked through to the back of the paper; they appear to be a partial reversion to the oil-based pigments the artist preferred earlier in his career (Merritt, Helen, 'Modern Japanese Prints: The Early Years', Honolulu, 1990, p. 229). The title is in a form of seal-script suitable for the subject matter. The story here is a legend told of the great Japanese ink-painter Sesshu Toyo (1420-1506). As a Zen acolyte in Hofuku-ji Temple he was tied to a post of the temple by his instructor, who was angry that he cared only about painting and not his other studies. On returning later, the instructor found what he thought was a lifeless rat at Sesshu's feet, which it turned out he had painted with his tears, using his toe (The story appears as early as 1693, in Kano Eino, 'Honcho gashi').2 The reasons for the choice of such a resonant subject for this portfolio is a matter for speculation, but it may well be a reference to the continuing occupation of Japan.


  • Bibliography

    • Smith 2002 32 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2002, 4 Sep-1 Dec, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japanese Prints during the Allied Occupation 1945-1952'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Colour woodblock print. Crying infant. Seals.


Colour woodblock print. Crying infant. Seals.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF13159

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