Fashionable Brocade Pictures of the Tales of Ise: wo, Catalpa Bow

Artist: Katsukawa Shunshō 勝川春章 (1726-1792)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1772-73
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 22.7 x 15.7 cm (8 15/16 x 6 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, death, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, koban, poems, snow, Tales of Ise, ukiyo-e, woman
Provenance research underway.

This print illustrates a tragic episode from the eleventh-century poetic narrative, "Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari) in which a young wife whose husband has been away for three years promises herself to another man, only to have her husband return on the night when she has promised to join her suitor. When her husband leaves her, following an exchange of poems in which she expresses her love for the other man, she has a change of heart. She pursues her husband in vain, falling down beside a stream, where just before she dies she writes a poem on a stone using blood from her finger:

Unable to detain
the man who has left,
rejecting my love,
I feel that soon
I will perish.

This print comes from a series of forty-eight images illustrating episodes from Tales of Ise. Shunsho's designs for the series reflect the elegant style of the Tosa school, whose members were official painters for the imperial court.

Translation of poem by Helen Craig McCullough (Tales of Ise: Lyrical Episodes from Tenth-Century Japan [Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1968])

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 124, pp. 302-303.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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