Collection online

painting / handscroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1902,0606,0.26

  • Description

    Painting, handscroll. Scenes at fire: firemen dousing down last small pockets of flames and helping citizens to salvage belongings from ruins of homes. Ink, colour and gold on paper. Signed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1868-1872 (?)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 26.7 centimetres
    • Width: 406 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        一運齋戯画
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Ichiunsai giga
      • Inscription Translation

        Painted for amusement by Ichiunsai
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        國歳
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kunitoshi
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    Though the technique on paper is more spontaneous than Kunitoshi's fire scenes on silk (no. 165), it seems likely that this handscroll depicts the aftermath of the same fire in the early Meiji era. Here firemen are seen dousing down the last small pockets of flames and helping citizens to salvage what they can from the ruins of their homes. The thick-walled storehouses, however, seem to have escaped largely unscathed, and at the end of the scroll, auspiciously, can be seen the beginning of a row of undamaged houses the firemen have managed to save.

    Assuming that the dating of c. 1868-72 suggested by Ikegami Akihiko is correct, then it suggests that artists were very quick to exercise new freedoms after the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868 and the concomitant demise of the laws restricting the reporting of contemporary events. Alongside the decorative virtuosity of the treatment of the flames (using cut gold leaf no less), which might be seen as a more purely traditional element, Kunitoshi adapts old techniques in a new way to convey a keen impression of the confusion of muddy debris that is altogether more reportorial in character than paintings of the Edo period.

    Literature:
    '(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, BW nos 65-7.Asahi 1996

    描き方としては火事を描いた国歳の絹本の作品(前図)よりものびのびとしているが、明治初期の同じ火事の消火後を描いたもののようである。ここでは火消は最後の炎の一帯に水をかけ、人々が家の焼け跡から拾えるものを拾おうとするのを手伝っている。白壁の土蔵はほぼ無傷で助かったようである。そして画巻は、めでたいことに、火消が救うことのできた、火が回らなかった家並が始まるところで終わる。池上彰彦が述べた明治元年から明治5年頃という制作年代が正しいとすれば、画家は1868年に徳川幕府が倒れ、それに伴って同時代の事件を題材にとりあげるのを統制されることもなくなった新しい自由を即効行使したことになる。炎の描写には名人芸ともいえる装飾的な技法を用いる(金砂子を散らしている)。単に伝統的な素材と見えるかもしれないが、国歳は伝統的な手法を新しい方向に用いて、泥まみれの残骸が散らかる混乱した状況の印象を鋭く伝えようとした。つまり江戸時代の作品に比べてより報道性が強いのが特徴である。

    (伊藤紫織(千葉市美術館))

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Asahi 1996 100 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 166 bibliographic details
    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 BW 65-67 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1902

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1902,0606,0.26

  • Additional IDs

    • Anderson No. 2047 (annotation in Anderson 1886)
    • Jap.Ptg.1591 (Japanese Painting Number)
Painting. Street scene. Scene of a fire.

Recto

Painting. Street scene. Scene of a fire.

Image description

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