Emperor Tenji (Tenchi), from the series “One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each, as Explained by the Wet Nurse”

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1835
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 26 x 37.7 cm (10 1/4 x 14 13/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), emperor, farming, Japan, landscape, oban, poems, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

In 1835, at the age of seventy-six, the artist Hokusai began an ambitious series of one hundred print designs based on the anthology of Japanese classical poetry, One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each. The series was not completed, probably due in part to the economic duress caused by the Tempo Famine (1833-36). Only twenty-seven prints are known, but fifty-five additional images survive as Hokusai's original drawings for key blocks. Hokusai's print for the first poem of the series focuses entirely on the lives of common people who labor in a tranquil autumn harvest scene. The abundance and harmony of their lives reflect the compassion of their ruler, the Emperor Tenji (626-672) who composed the poem. It reads:

In the autumn fields
the hut, the temporary hut,
its thatch is rough
and so the sleeves of my robe
are dampened night by night with dew.

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. 121, pp. 296-297.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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