Bonito (<i>katsuo</i>) and saxifrage (<i>yukinoshita</i> [雪の下]) from an untitled series known as <i>The Large Fish</i> (<i>Uozukushi</i> [魚尽くし])

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) (artist 1797 – 1858)

Bonito (katsuo) and saxifrage (yukinoshita [雪の下]) from an untitled series known as The Large Fish (Uozukushi [魚尽くし])

Print


ca 1832 – 1833
10 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Ichiryūsai Hiroshige ga
一立斎広重画
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
(Marks 391 - seal 16-053)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
British Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna
Chazen Museum of Art
Harvard Art Museums
Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm
Östasiatiska Museet, Stockholm
National Diet Library
National Museum of Asian Art - referred to as Skipjack Tuna (Katsuo) with blooms of Strawberry geraniums "In c. 1832, when Hiroshige was experiencing his first period of success and had been approached with multiple commissions, he also turned to a subject which up to that point nobody had dealt with in a similar way. Perhaps there wee two precedents in book form, both anthologies of haiku: Katsuma Ryūsi's beautiful haiku book titled Umi no sachi, (Boon from the sea, 1762... and Kitao Masayoshi's Tatsu no Miya Tsuko (Servitors to the Dragon Palace, 1802)...

A group of poets commissioned the production of an album of ten prints illustrating fishes accompanied by kyōka verses. The name of the group is unknown, but the names of the individuals include some well-known poets, some of them affiliated to the Yomogawa circle. The first edition of ten prints was issued in album form, and therefore all the designs have a centerfold. The names of the poets are presented alongside the poems, though the publisher's seal and kiwame censorship seal are absent. Just as in the case of the Edo kinko hakkei no uchi series... commissioned by the Taihaidō group, the fish series which at this point included 11 designs, appeared slightly later in a commercial edition published by Nishimuraya Yohachi around 1832-34. in 1840 nine prints were added carrying the publisher's seal of Yamada Shōjirō."

Quoted from: Hiroshige: Shaping the Image of Japan by Chris Uhlenbeck and Marije Jansen, 2008, p. 41.

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"This series of ten or eleven prints - it is not certain whether a print of trout belongs to the series or not - was originally commissioned by a poetry club. They were thus first issued as a de luxe kyōka folding albums and all the prints from the first edition... have a centerfold.

Bokashi was added to the upper edge in later impressions..."

The poems are by Toshinoto Haruki and Toshihiro Machikado. The latter wrote:
Kamakura no
yuki no shita naru
hatsukatsuo
fukumeba kiyuru
ajiwai zo yoki
Fresh bonito tastes best
when you let it melt in your mouth
under the snow in Kamakura.
"The name of the flower depicted here means literally 'under the snow'."

There are two early states of this print. One without the publisher's and censor's seal and one with - as in this case.

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Illustrated:

1) in Hiroshige: Prints and Drawings by Matthi Forrer, #84.

2) in a small black and white reproduction in the Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Ukiyo-e Prints (3), #3558.

3) in a black and white reproduction in 'Hiroshige: A shoal of red herrings' by Richard Kruml in Andon 49, October, 1994, fig. 5b, p. 16. Kruml wrote: "Katsuo, bonito, (Katsuwonus pelamis). Also called ocean bonito, strip-bellied [sic] bonito and striped tuna. Together with three sprigs of cherry (sakura)."
Nishimuraya Yohachi (西村屋与八) (publisher)
kachō-e (bird and flower picture - 花鳥絵) (genre)