Artist: Isoda Koryūsai (礒田湖龍斎)

Print: "Little boy playing hide-and-seek with his mother"

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Dates: created,1770s
Dimensions: 4.75 in,26.375 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Koryūsai ga (湖龍斎画)

Related links: Harvard Museums - related print - boy with hare on outfit; Lyon Collection - related print;Metropolitan Museum of Art - boy with a different hare decoration;

Physical description:

Illustrated in:

1) In The Japanese Pillar Print: Hashira-e by Jacob Pins, Robert G. Sawers Publishing, 1982, p. 190, ill. #446.

2) In Chats on Japanese Prints by Arthur D Ficke, 1915, p. 168.

"Koriusai... is the supreme master of the pillar print; no one else has produced so many fine ones, and practically all his finest work is in this form... In one print... he dashes the intense black line of a screen down through the middle of his picture and sets the delicate eddies of a child's and a young girl's garments playing around its base."


Look closely at the robe the young boy is wearing. The back of it is decorated with a hare, one of the Japanese zodiac creatures and an animal fraught with other forms of symbolism. In fact, the hare (or rabbit) is often paired with images of the moon and roiling waters as can be seen in standing screen in this print. Another interesting fact is that this boy, wearing the same clothes, appears in another unsigned print by Koryūsai in the Lyon Collection - #1352. That one is an erotic image in which this small boy and a slightly older girl are eavesdropping on a sexually engaged couple.

Now it appears that there is another example of a print in the Lyon Collection (#75) with this same hare motif, but this time in spades. It shows up on the robe of a woman by Kunisada created about 50 years later. Go to that print and use the enlarging tool to see what we are talking about.