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mitate-e / painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1913,0501,0.284

  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. Parody of Third Princess from Tale of Genji: woman with long combed-out hair hanging loose down her back, wearing diaphanous gauze robe and wedding ring; cat playing in end of the sash she is winding around her waist. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1890s
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 114.9 centimetres
    • Width: 44.2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

        楊州
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Yoshu
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

        周延
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Chikanobu
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    The many Ukiyo-e paintings showing a cat playing in the skirts of a woman's robes refer to the famous scene in the 'Young Herbs: Part One' ('Wakana jo') chapter of 'Tale of Genji', in which the pet cat belonging to Onna Sannomiya (the Third Princess) escapes out on to the balcony, and Kashiwagi, who is playing court football outside, catches a glimpse of the princess through the gap in the curtain and falls in love with her. Here the woman has clearly just come from her bath, with long combed-out hair hanging loose down her back and wearing a diaphanous gauze robe through which can be seen her breasts and one delicate arm. Since she wears a wedding ring it can be assumed she is a young wife. The cat plays in the end of the 'obi' that she winds around her waist, and Chikanobu has sensitively modulated the ink to give a sense of the sheen on the black silk fabric. The colour scheme is extremely muted, adding to the overall sense of freshness.

    While on the one hand the beauty still has the impassive, idealised features associated with the Ukiyo-e tradition, the very three-dimensional depiction of the voluptuous body beneath the diaphanous robe is new and informed by a much keener sense of anatomical accuracy than in the past (compare, for instance, with no. 25 by Eishun). Though dismissed unfairly as weak and vapid by critics in the past, Meiji-era painters such as Chikanobu were clearly capable - as in this instance - of matching the achievements of many earlier masters and served as an important link between Ukiyo-e and the 'bijin' paintings of later Nihonga masters such as Uemura Shoen (1875-1949).

    The form of the signature is similar to that found on late print series such as 'Shin bijin' (1897).

    Literature:
    '(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 184.Asahi 1996

    多くの浮世絵師が、猫が女の着物の裾を乱す場面を、有名な源氏物語の若菜上のエピソードの見立として描いている。そのエピソードとは女三の宮の飼い猫が部屋から簀子に走り出て、外で蹴鞠をしていた柏木が御簾の合間から女三の宮の姿を見て恋に落ちるというものである。ここでは女は風呂から上がったばかりとみえ、長い髪を背中に垂らし、透ける薄物をまとい、乳房やほっそりした腕が透けて見えている。結婚指輪をはめているので、若妻と思われる。猫は腰に巻いた帯の端にじゃれついている。周延は黒い絹織物の光沢をあらわそうとして、墨で丹念に帯を仕上げている。色彩は非常に抑えられていて、新鮮な印象である。

    本作品の女性像には未だ浮世絵の美人画の伝統にもとづく受動的で理想化された要素がある一方、透ける着物の下の生身の肉親の三次元的な表現は、過去の作品に比べて解剖学的な正確さを求めたことが知れる新しい表現である。周延のような明治の画家は過去には脆弱で退屈なものと評価され、不当に見過ごされてきた。しかし、周延らは、ここで見るように、多くの先人の成果を取り入れ、浮世絵と例えば上村松園(1875-1949)のような近代日本画の美人画の巨匠をつなげる重要な役割を果たしている。

    落款の書体は明治30年(1897)の「真美人」などの後期のシリーズにみられるものと近い。

    (伊藤紫織(千葉市美術館))

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Asahi 1996 104 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 178 bibliographic details
    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 184 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Genji monogatari 源氏物語 (Tale of Genji)
    • Associated Title: Wakana jo 若菜上 (Young Herbs: Part One) (chapter)
  • 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

    1913,0501,0.284

  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1578 (Japanese Painting Number)
Hanging scroll. Girl tying obi. Ink and colours on silk.

Hanging scroll. Girl tying obi. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description

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Object reference number: JCF5068

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