One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: Retired Emperor Sutoku

Maker(s)
Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797-1861)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1840-42
Medium
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 37.6 x 25.4 cm (14 13/16 x 10 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Collection
Anne van Biema collection
Accession Number
S2004.3.174
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Woodblock print

Keywords
Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), emperor, Japan, oban, poems, ukiyo-e, wave, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Anne van Biema American, 1915 - 2004

Label

The One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each anthology inspired Kuniyoshi to design a series of prints. The poem quoted and explicated in the text to the left of the title in the upper corner was composed by Retired Emperor Svtoku (1119-1164). It reads:

Because the current is swift,
even though the rapids,
blocked by a boulder,
are divided, like them, in the end,
we will surely meet, I know.

In Kuniyoshi's print, the emperor stands on a boulder that emerges from turbulent rapids. The dark tones of the water and the stormy sky intensify the powerful emotions of separation and longing expressed by the poem. The desolate, unsettled imagery chosen by Kuniyoshi for this illustration may allude as well to the emperor's abdication and exile following his unsuccessful challenge of his successor Emperor Go-Shirakawa (1127-1192).
Translation of poem by Joshua S. Mostow (Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin isshu in Word and Image [Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996])

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 123, pp. 300-301.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum