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painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1913,0501,0.346

  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. Illustration of the Akutagawa episode in Tales of Ise: two samurai carrying women piggy-back, running in opposite directions across landscape dotted with maples; in distance servants searching with lanterns in front of long curtain bearing crest hung between trees. Ink and colour on paper. Signed and sealed.

    [Jap.Ptg.1406] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (a)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (b)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (c)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (d)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (T)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (Ta)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (V)] -

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1752 (before)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 84.8 centimetres
    • Width: 38.6 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

        湖邊齋一笑
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kohensai Issho
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

        安藤
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Ando [Yasumichi?]
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    In this unusual composition two samurai carrying women piggy back are shown running in opposite directions across a landscape dotted with maples, while in the distance servants search with lanterns in front of a long curtain bearing the crest of a noble family, hung between the trees. The women have pulled over their heads a special outer robe ('kinukazuki') worn by noblewomen to disguise their identity on outings.

    When the composition of an Ukiyo-e painting or print seems unusual or odd, it is often the signal that this is a 'mitate' rendition, alluding to some famous episode in history or classical literature. Seeing a woman carried on a man's back immediately brings to mind the 'Akutagawa' (Akuta River) episode, chapter 6 of 'Ise monogatari', in which a man abducts a young woman and carries her off to the Akuta River, where as they shelter for the night in a deserted house she is eaten by a monster. Seeing men searching in the distance for fleeing lovers also recalls the 'Musashi Moor' episode of the same novel (no. 34). Perhaps Issho intended the painting simply to show games at some autumn maple-viewing expedition of a noble household, with simultaneous references to 'Ise monogatari'; or else it illustrates the plot of some yet-to-be-discovered contemporary drama.

    The running figures have a spiky energy never found in the work of Issho's teacher, Miyagawa Choshun (?1682-1752; see p. 87) and their distinctive 'pinched' features are quite his own.

    Literature:
    '(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 105.Asahi 1996

    楓は紅に色づき、その中を女を背負った二人の武士が、右に左に走り抜けようとしている。遠方には高貴な家の家紋入りの幔幕が張られ、提灯を手にした奴たちがその前で彼らを探し回っている。一風変わった構図である。そして女たちは、遠出をする時宮中の女性が自らの身分を隠すためにまとった被衣を頭にかぶる。

    肉筆浮世絵や版画の構図があまり見慣れないものだったり、違和感を感じさせるような場合、大概、それは歴史や古典文学の有名な逸話を連想させる「見立絵」だと考えて間違いない。例えば、男の背に負ぶさった女を見れば、即座に『伊勢物語』の第6段「芥川」が思い浮かぶ。この物語は、ある男が若い女を誘拐して芥川辺に連れ去り、あばら屋に逃げ込んで一晩かくまうが、その間に女は怪物に喰われてしまうというもの。一方、遠景の逃げる恋人たちを探す従者は、同じく『伊勢物語』の「武蔵野」(No.28参照)を思い起こさせる。おそらく一笑は、宮廷の秋の紅葉狩りの情景に『伊勢物語』のイメージを重ね合わせようとしたのであろう。でなければ、我々の知らない当時の逸話が描かれているのかもしれない。

    侍たちは、一笑の師•宮川長春(1682?-1752)の作品には決して見られなかったエネルギッシュな動きを見せる。そして特徴的な彼らの「狐顔」は、まさに一笑のものといってよい。

    (荒木康子(福島県立美術館))

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  • Bibliography

    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 105 bibliographic details
    • Asahi 1996 32 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 40 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Ise monogatari ('Akutagawa' (Akuta River) episode, chapter 6)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1913

  • 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.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1913,0501,0.346

  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1406 (Japanese Painting Number)
Hanging scroll. Samurai elopements. Ink and colours on paper.

Hanging scroll. Samurai elopements. Ink and colours on paper.

Image description

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Object reference number: JCF5128

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