Kikukawa Eizan, ‘Fashionable Flowers and Birds, Wind and Moon: Moon’, ca. 1812-13, Scholten Japanese Art

oban from a triptych, with publisher's seal Izumi Ichi han (Izumiya Ichibei of Kansendo), ca. 1812-13

oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 in., 39.5 by 26.7 cm

A view of two women in the countryside surrounded by blossoming hagi (bushclover) and kikyo (bell flowers). Although the flowers indicate that it is autumn, it must be a balmy day in early autumn because the woman on the left has her kimono open at the collar exposing her breast and seems unconcerned with modesty as she enjoys her tobacco pipe. Her companion, with a hairstyle of a younger girl, has her furisode sleeves tied back out of the way and holds a folded bundle of cloth. Their languid manner suggest the conclusion of a relaxing picnic or assignation.

This print is likely the right hand sheet of a triptych with each panel depicting individual figures and repeating the title cartouche allowing the compositions to be viewed individually or as a complete set with only the background linking the composition. This format would work well in the albums compiled by collectors at the time- you could turn the pages and view one or two sheets at a time, or if the album was an accordion type, you could extend it outwards in order to complete the multi-panel view.

The series title, Furyu kacho fugetsu no uchi (Fashionable Flowers and Birds, Wind and Moon), establishes there should have been four designs devoted to the traditional painting grouping of kacho fugetsu, comprised of flowers (ka), birds (cho), wind (fu) and the moon (getsu). However, only one other single sheet from this series is recorded, Kaze (Wind), in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which was issued by a different publisher, Yamada Sanshiro. This appears to be an unrecorded print from a rather scarce series.

Series: Fashionable Flowers and Birds, Wind and Moon

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei of Kansendo

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.2090

About Kikukawa Eizan