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Kisoji no sansen Setsugekka (Snow, Moon and Flowers)


Hiroshige, Utagawa; designer; Japanese artist, 1797-1858








Japanese; Ukiyo-e


19th century


Colour print from woodblocks. Ôban triptych, each sheet 366 x 240/248. Signed: Hiroshige hitsu. Artist’s seal: Bokurin shôja. Publisher: tsuta (Okazawaya Taheiji). Date seal: Snake 8 (8/1857). Censor’s seal: aratame. 1857




given; 1993; The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


The ‘snow’ triptych from the untitled set of three landscape triptychs on the traditional theme of setsugetsuka (snow, moon and flowers), published by Okazawaya Taheiji in 1857. Each was signed with a different seal by the artist, and the calligraphic style for each title was intentionally varied: gyôsho style (snow), reisho style (moon), and sôsho style (flowers). The three elements of setsugetsuka were considered ‘the three friends of the poet’, first mentioned by Hakurakuten (Be Zhui: 772-846), the Chinese poet reputedly sent by the Tang emperor to Japan. The theme occurs in Makura no sôshi (The pillow book) by Sei Shônagon (c.966-1017) and in later collections of verse. The three words were sometimes used in place of numerals to number sequences such as the volumes of a book, or the prints in a set. They were associated with the seasons: the moon with early autumn, snow with winter, flowers with spring (together with birds, they made up the four seasonal elements: kachô gessetsu). This print shows the mountain road between Kyoto and Edo, which had been the subject of one of Hiroshige’s series of prints (Kisokaidô, c.1836-43). The abstract quality of the design recalls Chinese painting styles. As in Hiroshige’s late landscape paintings, the human figure is virtually absent: not since Hokusai’s views of Fuji had there been a vision of nature in ukiyo-e prints so uncompromising in its evocative power.

Acquisition Credit:

Given by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum with the aid of a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund


Fifteen Years of the National Art Collections Fund. 1997-01-06 - 1997-01-26
Organiser: National Art Collections Fund, London, England
Venue: Christie's, London


Object Number: P.1-1993
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 182898; input: 2011-03-29; modified: 2017-03-30)


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