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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 collection's print has had margins added to it and it appears that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art print may also have added margins.) 

While absent from both this collection's print and the print in the collection of the Chazen Museum of Art, the prints in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art both have the publisher's name and publication date in the bottom left and center portion of the image, as shown below. Kiyochika's signature is present on all prints along the lower right of the image.

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

This collection's print looks identical to the one in the collection of the Chazen Museum of Art, but shows some differences with the MFA and LACMA prints. It is unknown how many times this image may have been reprinted by the publisher.

click on image to enlarge
upper left: this collection's print; upper right Chazen Museum of Art
lower left: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; lower right: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

click on image to enlarge
detail of publishing and artist information from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston print
left: Publisher Info - address and name: Yoshikawacho Nibanchi Masuki Heikichi
center: Date: Meiji juninen [ ] gatsu [ ] hi otodoke (Meiji 12th year, month [ ], day [ ], delivered
right: Artist's address and name: Yonezawacho Ichibanchi Kobayashi Kiyochika-ga

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Ducks and Withered Lotus (also: Two Ducks by a Lotus Pond)
 鴨と枯蓮 (Kamo to karehasu)
 Artist  Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915)
 米睾町一番地 小林清親 画
  Yonezawachō ichi banchi - Kobayashi Kiyochika ga
(artist’s address and name bottom right of image)
 Seal  none
 Publication Date 1879 (Meiji 12)
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Edition unknown (see About this Impression above)
 Impression excellent
 Colors good
 Condition poor - backed and re-margined; heavily toned
 Genre ukiyo-e; kacho-ga
unread character to right of artist's signature
 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 inModern Japan, Kendall Brown, Hollis Goodall-Cristante, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996, p. 57, fig. 69
 Collections This Print
Los Angeles County Museum ofArt M.73.37.464; Santa Barbara Museum of Art 1983.63.3; Chazen Museum of Art 1980.2451; Museumof Fine Arts Boston 35.1882; Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University  Z0173-518 and ARC 国会547-00-001; Honolulu Museum of Art 19251
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