Festivals of the Twelve Months

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Artist: Miyagawa Chōshun 宮川長春 (1683-1753)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1682-1752
Ink, color, gold, and silver on paper
H x W (overall): 31.5 x 1488.9 cm (12 3/8 x 586 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


celebration, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, makimono, new year, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

Acknowledged as the most important ukiyo-e painter of the early eighteenth century, Choshun celebrates the life of pleasure seeking.  His paintings emphasize the elegant coiffure and tailoring of the courtesans and their patrons who inhabit ukiyo, "the floating world," as the pleasure quarters were known.  In lieu of a concrete narrative, idealized seasonal settings provide the chronological framework for this painting, which is unrolled to show the autumn cycle.

Unlike many artists who portrayed life in the demimonde, the skilled colorist Choshun was known exclusively as a painter, not a print designer. His figural style is a distinctive blend of Hishikawa Moronobu's (circa 1618-1694) pleasantly rounded burghers and the fulsome, curvilinear beauties of Kaigetsudo Ando (active circa 1700-14). He stands at the head of an important lineage of painters that spawned Katsukawa Shunsho (1726?-1792), who dominated the production of actor prints and paintings in the late eighteenth century, and his disciple, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), the eclectic nineteenth-century master.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 59, vol. 2: p. 171.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 34, pp. 84-85.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 127.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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