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Kyōsai hyakuzu, Wheels on a Slope: Many Sailors Climb a Mountain (Saka ni kuruma, sendō ōkute yama e noboru)

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Wheels on a Slope: Many Sailors Climb a Mountain

(Saka ni kuruma, sendō ōkute yama e noboru)

from the series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

by Kawanabe Kyōsai, c. 1863-1866


IHL Cat. #612

About this Print and the Series Kyōsai Hyakuzu


The Print

Soldiers and sailors are seen trying to move a cannon up a waterfall.  There is a Japanese saying "Sendō ōkute fune yama ni noboru," literally "too many boatmen will take the ship onto a mountain," or in its English proverb equivalent "too many cooks spoil the broth." Something similar applies to this scene.

The Series
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886.  The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album.

One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.

This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.

*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made.  The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope.  Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.


Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #612
 Title or Description  Wheels on a Slope: Many Sailors Climb a Mountain
 坂ニ車 船頭多くして山へ登る 
 Saka ni kuruma, sendō ōkute yama e noboru 
 Artist  Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Series Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai)
 Signature
Kyōsai giga 狂斎戯画 ]
 Seal (of artist)  None
 Publication Date  likely c. 1880s (originally c. 1863-1866)
 Publisher
Ōkura Magobei - seal of the publisher Wakasaya Yoichi; originally issued by Wakasaya Yoichi and then reprinted in book form by Ōkura Magobei
 Engraver
 
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  good
 Condition poor - wrinkling and soiling throughout; paper thinning
 Genre  ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  koban [vertical yotsugiri (quarter ōban)]
 H x W Paper
 7 1/4 x 4 7/8 in. (18.4 x 12.4 cm)
 Collections
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.22645, 11.37005, 11.45800.48
 Reference Literature
 

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