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Reading from the series Edo Brocades


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Reading from the series Edo Brocades

by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1902

IHL Cat. #355

About This Print

One of at least 30 prints making up the series Edo Brocades showing a young woman reading while her teacher looks onThe prints from this series were bound into albums and this print retains its album backing sheet.  A heavy application of silver mica was used on the shelving holding the manuscripts, a detail of which is shown below.

The Series Eastern Brocades

Source: Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, 2006, p. 61, 201.

This set of small deluxe prints revisited many of the subjects and themes Chikanobu had depicted in earlier and larger formats. But where the Chiyoda Inner Palace (Chiyoda no Ooku) series of triptychs portrayed the shogun's private quarters where family members and concubine lived a sheltered life, this series appears to document the pleasures of well-to-do middle class who dressed in fine kimono and practiced certain refined activities such as arranging flowers, writing poems and enjoying with friends the first snowfall (hatsuyuki) or evening plum blossom viewing. The quality of line work in these images is weak in comparison with Chikanobu's designs from the 1890's and suggests that he may have lent his name to Matsuki's production without personally sketching the images. However the mood created by the series is in accord with Chikanobu's vision of domestic life in the late Edo Period.

Edo Brocades does not have any particular historical references, but presents vignettes of Edo residents (Edokko) pursuing traditional pleasures... The linework in these prints is extremely fine, especially around the faces of the delicately drawn figures, although the body proportions still follow Chikanobu's 'canon of beauty.'

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Reading
 Series Edo no Nishiki 江戸錦 (Edo Embroidery Pictures or Edo Brocades)
 Artist Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912)
 Signature Yōshū Chikanobu
 Seal Toshidama 年玉
 Publication Date September 1, 1902
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi 松次平吉
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good – red ink offsetting, original album backing, centerfold from original album inclusion 
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 
 9 3/8 x 13 7/8 in. (23.8 x 35.2 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College 1950.683
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