Pictures of Amuseuments at Cherry-Blossom-Viewing Time, Kyoho period (1716-36)
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper
Signature: Nihon e Miyagawa Choshun zu (on each screen)
Seal: Unidentified (left screen only)
Harriet B. Bancroft Fund and Stoddard Acquisition Fund
The preeminent painter of the first half of the eighteenth century, Miyagawa Choshun was the founder of the mainstream of ukiyo-e painting, or pictures of the floating world. Known for his hanging scrolls of beautiful women and handscrolls of seasonal genre scenes, he did not design woodblock prints or illustrated books as did most artists of this school. Only one other pair of screens, in a Japanese collection, is attributed to him.
These rare screens are marvels of execution. All the figures interact convincingly to create a sense of relaxed merriment. The right screen depicts a cherry-blossom-viewing party at an elegant Edo teahouse. Men and women enjoy activities both indoors and out: drinking sake, playing the samisen, and strolling beside the pond. The left screen represents boating on Edo's Sumida River. The famous Ryogoku Bridge, the center of the most important Edo amusement area, is shown on the far right. In the individualization and variety of characters crossing the bridge and walking along the riverbank, these exquisite screens reflect the influence of Hishikawa Morunobu (died 1694), whom Choshun acknowledged as his stylistic source. The delicacy and elegance of line and color reveal Choshun's personal style. No detail is treated summarily; attention is paid to describing the patterns of textiles, the decoration on lacquer and porcelains, and the materials and construction of architecture.
See the associated image, Pictures of Amusements at Cherry-Blossom-Viewing Time.