The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Japanese; fl. c.1755-1790 Asia,East Asia,Japan
White chrysanthemums and pinks in a black vase
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
Hosoban; 33.0 x 15.0 cm.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
The 'flowers of autumn' (akigusa), a principal motif in Japanese art and literature, include chrysanthemums and pinks. Here they are deftly arranged off center in a vase whose shape suggests that it may be a treasured Chinese metal import. The matte jet black of the vase provides a sophisticated foil for both the pure white chrysanthemums and the colorful dappled pinks, whose hue is echoed in the square carved-lacquer (?) stand underneath the vase. A sharp diagonal separates the background from the horizontal plane on which the vase stands, implying that we are looking down from above; perhaps the mustard yellow horizontal is meant to suggest the low shelf of a tokonoma, where, of course, flowers would normally be displayed. One can imagine this tastefularrangement lovingly created for the admiration of fellow sophisticates at some autumn tea gathering.In assigning the print to Buncho we are simply following the traditional attribution for no flower pints of this type bearing his signature are known. Perhaps early critics detected in it the same quiet, rather astringent quality sometimes found in Buncho's designs of Kabuki actors of female roles (onnagata). If the print was designed by another professional ukiyo-e artist, possible candidates would be Suzuki Harunobu, Kitao Shigemase, or Isoda Koryusai.On the other hand, in subject matter and execution the print bears a resemblance to certain calendar prints designed by amateurs in 1765 and 1766- for instance, the Pot of Pinks by Hoshi, which has a calendar marks for 1765 printed around the body of the pot (see 'The Actor's Image' catalogue, fig. 14.1, p.76). Though the present print bears no calendar marks, it is elaborately embossed to bring out the petals of the white chrysanthemums and to suggest a floral decoration on the black vase. This is typical of the technical experimentation and meticulous workmanship of the few years following 1765, when commercial full-color printing was new.
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