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Ducks and Withered Lotus


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ducks and Withered Lotus

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1879

IHL Cat. #245

About This Print

Source: Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 52-53
This untitled print known as Ducks and Withered Lotus is a genre of print designated as a "domestic print" by Henry D. Smith.  Domestic prints were similar to traditional bird and flower prints (kacho-e) but showed domestic everyday house and garden scenes.  In this print Kiyochika has sought to approximate Western-style painting, eliminating the margins to approximate a canvas.  (Note this edition of the print has had margins added to it and it appears that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art print has either original or added margins.) No title is provided and publication information is on the bottom edge.  Kiyochika's signature is within the print itself in a Western manner with no surrounding cartouche.

Kiyochika' has made an effort to de-emphasize line in this print without abandoning the woodblock medium.  It is suggested that this print was designed to compete with the new technology of color lithography.  Particularly effective is the ghostly gray pattern of the decaying lotus in the background.  The careful modeling of the ducks suggests that the artist had observed such birds closely and was aiming more for a scientific Audubon-like accuracy than for the elegance of the traditional bird-and-flower genre.  The print is dated 1879, probably the first year in which the publisher Matsuki began issuing such prints.

About this Impression

Likely a later state, possibly even a modern printing that has been made to look old.  This impression does not have the publisher’s name or date in the image, as do the impressions in the MFA Boston or LACMA impressions pictured below.  There are minor differences in the image between this collection's print and the below prints, suggesting re-carved blocks were used.

 MFA Boston Print
 LACMA Print

 Publisher Info - address and name:
Yoshikawacho Nibanchi Masuki Heikichi

 Date: Meiji juninen [ ] gatsu [ ] hi otodoke (Meiji 12th year, month [ ], day [ ], delivered
Artist's address and name: Yonezawacho Ichibanchi Kobayashi Kiyochika-ga

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description  Ducks and Withered Lotus (Two Ducks by a Lotus Pond) 鴨と枯蓮 (Kamo ni harehasu)
 Artist  Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915)
 Signature  Yonezawacho Ichibanchi Kobayashi Kiyochika ga (artist’s address and name bottom right.)
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  originally 1879 (Meiji 12)
 Publisher  Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Edition  unknown, but a later printing (see About this Impression above)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  good
 Condition poor - backed and re-margined; heavily toned
 Genre  ukiyo-e
 Format  horizontal oban
 H x W Paper
 11 1/8 x 15 1/4 in. (28.3 x 38.7 cm)
 H x W Image
 9 7/8 x 14 7/8 in. (25.2 x 37.8 cm)
 Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 52, fig. 53; Shin-Hanga: New Prints in Modern Japan, Kendall Brown, Hollis Goodall-Cristante, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996, p. 57, fig. 69
 Collections This Print
Los Angeles County Museum of Art M.73.37.464 (1897 printing); Santa Barbara Museum of Art 1983.63.3 (1897 printing); Chazen Museum of Art 1980.2451 (1897 printing); Museum of Fine Arts Boston 35.1882 (1897 printing); Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University  Z0173-518 and ARC 国会547-00-001