KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849) POEM BY YAMABE NO AKAHITO | EDO PERIOD, 19TH CENTURY
5,000 - 8,000 GBP
KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
EDO PERIOD, 19TH CENTURY
POEM BY YAMABE NO AKAHITO
woodblock print, from the series The Hundred Poems [By the Hundred Poets] as Told by the Nurse (Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki), signed saki no Hokusai manji, published by Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudo), censor's seal kiwame, circa 1835-36
26.1 x 38 cm, 10¼ x 15 in.
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Good impression and colour, slight toning, a few small restorations, slight crease to top right, some thinning of paper to right-hand corner, a few small marks in the sky above Mount Fuji, tape residue and red Sakai seal to reverse
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Timothy Clark, 100 Views of Mount Fuji (London, 2001), no. 42
S. Nagata, Hokusai Museum (Hokusai Bijutsukan): Tales (Monogatari-e), vol. 5, 2nd ed.(Tokyo, 1990), plate 132
Okayama Museum, Tokubetsu-ten Hiroshige to Hokusai Rokuju yoshu meishozu-e to Hyakunin isshu uba ge etoki (Sakai Collection), Okayama Museum, Okayama, 29 October - 23 November, exhib, cat (Okayama, 1983), pl. 4
W. Crothers, T. Kobayashi and J. Berndt, Hokusai, NGV International, Melbourne, 21 July- 15 October 2017, exhib. cat. (Melbourne, 2017)
Okayama Museum, Okayama, 29 October - 23 November 1983
Hokusai, National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne, 21 July - 15 October 2017
For his last single sheet series of woodblock prints, One Hundred Poems Explained by the Nurse (Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki), Katshushika Hokusai looked to an anthology of well-known poems, entitled Hyakunin Isshu (A Hundred Poems by a Hundred Poets), as his source. These poems, based on love and melancholy, were assembled by the thirteenth-century poet Fujiawara no Teika. Hokusai chose to visually recount the poems from the perspective of a fictional elderly nurse. Together with sixty-four preparatory drawings, twenty-seven published prints are known, each exhibiting bold colour and including a cartouche enclosing the relevant verse. The series was commissioned by the publisher Nishimura Yohachi and his firm Eijudo successfully issued five prints before closing down; the additional twenty-two prints were then published by Iseya Sanjiro’s firm Iseri, with the original Eijudo seal continuing to be employed.
The poem in this print was written by Yamabe no Akahito (active 724-36) and describes the poet’s view of snowy Mount Fuji on his journey from the beach of Tago (translation by Joshua Mostow):
Tago no ura ni
Fuji no taka-ne ni
Yuki ha furitsutsu
As I set out on
The beach of Tago, and look
I see the snow constantly falling
On the high peak of Fuji
White as mulberry cloth.
Well-heeled travellers and their servants climb up a steep path along a cliff edge, beneath which choppy waters break against rocks. While being precarious, the route offers an exceptional view of distant Mount Fuji, its silvery hue dramatically standing out against the blue water in the middle-ground and the band of red sky on the horizon.
For a similar impression in The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, see accession no. 11.17667