Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
Twilight Snow at Mokuboji (Mokuboji bosetsu木母寺暮雪) from the series Eight Views of Edo (Edo hakkei - 江戸八景)
30 in x 14.625 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblcok print
Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 04-007)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Waseda University - left panel only
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington - right panel only
Google map - Mokuboji, Tokyo
National Museums of Scotland - right panel
National Museums of Scotland - middle panel
National Museums of Scotland - left panel
Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art
Beaux-arts de Paris - center panel
Beaux-arts de Paris - left panel
Beaux-arts de Paris - right panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hiroshige print of women arriving by boat, in the snow, at the same location
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1857 Hiroshige of women visiting the same location in the fall
Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium (via Cultural Japan) - center and right-hand panel only
Chazen Museum of Art - center and right panels
Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden) via Ritsumeikan University - right-hand panel only
Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden) via Ritsumeikan University - center panel only
Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden) via Ritsumeikan University - left-hand panel only
Smith College - the left-hand panel only
Hokkaido Museum of Art - the full triptych In this writer's opinion, this triptych is one of the gems of the Lyon Collection. There are many, but this one strikes a particular note of elegance and charm. Three beautiful women are disembarking near the Uehan, a particularly famous restaurant on the grounds of the Mokubo temple. Perhaps they are their to dine or to 'work' the place. A man and a woman, in the upper right of the right-hand panel, are carefully watching there arrival from inside one of the buildings.
In the background on the left, just beyond the arched bridge is the Gozensaihata (御前栽畑), It had originally been used by the Shogun as a place for falconry. Then in about 1650 it became a garden which supplied vegetables to the Shogun's court for a considerable length of time, but perhaps not until the 1820s.
Below and just beyond the bridge on the right are two other boats used most likely to ferry customers back and forth. One ferryman in a straw coat is seen standing by his tiller. He is like a cabby lined up waiting for his next fare.
These women appear to be going to the Uekiya (植木屋) Restaurant - also called the Uehan (植半) - owned by Uekiya Han'emon. It could be found on the grounds of the Mokubo Temple. Like the two Hiroshige prints linked above, the temple itself cannot be seen in this scene.
"Three geishas arrive by boat at the grounds of the Mokuboji temple on the Uchikawa inlet, in the northern part of Edo. It is late winter and snow is falling heavily as night closes in. The women are probably on their way to the Uehan restaurant, named after its owner, Uekiya Hanemon.It is the most famous of several restaurants located in the vicinity of the temple.
This series of eight triptychs depicts women of Edo and compares them with the eight traditional views of Lake Biwa."
Quoted from: Kunisada's World by Sebastian Izzard, p. 78.
Izzard identifies the publisher of this triptych as Yamamoto Kyūbei (Marks 593 - seal 04-008). However, we have assigned it to Yamamotoya Heikichi (Marks 595 - seal 04-007). Their seals are almost exactly the same. However, if Andreas Marks is correct then it must be the latter since the consensus is that this triptych dates from ca. 1820 and Yamamoto Kyūbei was believed to have published between ca. 1805-11.
There is a beautiful fresh-colored example of this triptych in the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden. It is reproduced in brilliant color in Kunisada's World, pp. 78-79.
Henry D. Smith II in an article about blue dyes in Japanese prints wrote: "...it seems clear that the quality of indigo aibō and the techniques used to print it were improving throughout the Bunsei period, prior to the regular use of Berlin blue in Edo nishiki-e after 1830.This improved use of natural indigo effectively marks the first stage of the 'blue revolution' in Japanese prints. A striking example is the Kunisada triptych 'Mokuboji bosetsu' (Evening snow Mokuboji)... which has been dated circa 1820 on stylistic grounds by Sebastian lzzard. According to the scientific analysis of Shimoyama Susumu and Noda Yasuko, the several shades of blue on the women's kimonos and the bokashi gradations on the water are all printed in natural indigo." The effect is so striking that it is easy at first glance to mistake it for Berlin blue, as I myself did in an earlier version of this article." At any rate, examples like this clearly demonstrate that by the early 1820s, natural indigo could be printed to much more striking effect than ever in the past."
The right and center panels were used as the design of the book jacket of The Edward Burr van Vleck Collection of Japanese Prints. This is a catalogue of the collection that now makes up the bulk of the ukiyo prints in the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin.
There is another copy of this triptych in the Museum Rietberg.
Yamamotoya Heikichi (山本屋平吉) (publisher)
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
landscape prints (fūkeiga 風景画) (genre)