Lovers with a Bird Cage

Artist: Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信 (1724-1770)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1766-67
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 28 x 20.8 cm (11 x 8 3/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, bird, chuban, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, lovers, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

A young woman presents a caged bird to her suitor, who slips a love letter into her hand. The elegant cusped form of the window frame replicates a Chinese architectural style that became a luxurious element of some upper-class Japanese residences. Through the window with its paper-covered shoji drawn aside, a blossoming plum branch suggests that the season is the New Year, which occurs during the lunar calendar in late January or early February. Visits would have been customary during this time of year, and the young couple has taken advantage of a rare opportunity to meet. Harunobu's print designs are beautifully composed and exploit the aesthetic potential of full-color printing, which was first seen in Japanese prints in 1765.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 107, pp. 268-269.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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