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Pleasure boating on the Sumida with a scoop-net (yotsude ami - 四つ手網) -
left panel of triptych

Identifier: 1800-01 Utamaro BW

The publisher is unknown.

Illustrated in color as number 362 in the plate volume of The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro by Shugō Asano and Timothy Clark, p. 185. Listed in the text volume on pp. 217-218. Below is the catalogue entry.

"A scene of pleasure-boating on the Sumida River at night behind a large scoop-net that is the main feature of the composition. Such scoop-nets were particularly used to fish for whitebait in spring, and it is likely that such an association is intended here - so the fish already in the bottom of the boat must be whitebait. The unlikely preponderance of women in the design is a fabrication common to many Ukiyo-e."


Before he ever saw the complete triptych set, Mike Lyon found this impression of the left-most sheet featuring the young man enjoying sake (rice wine). Lyon was enthralled with the printing effects he saw revealed in the fabrics of the yukata, summer kimono.

The artist Utamaro is known for his strong compositions, often with innovative visual effects. Always pushing the limits of paper’s two dimensions, Utamaro experimented with layering, especially with transparent material, to achieve a sense of three-dimensional space.



Also illustrated

1) in color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, vol. 9, Kodansha, 1989, #159. (The entire triptych is shown here.)

2) in black and white in The Age of Utamaro: Japanese prints c. 1780-1800, Rijkspentkabinet, 1979, p. 60, #75. The author notes that despite the size of the fisherman's net he has only caught one fish, seen a the bottom of the middle print.

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