Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849
Group of 15 Drawings related to pages in ehon 'Chinese Verses and Joruri'
(Ehon Joruri Zekku)
ink on paper, unsigned, not dated, ca. 1815
each approximately 5 3/8 by 7 1/2 in., 13.5 by 18.9 cm
These fifteen preparatory drawings relate to pages found in Hokusai's illlustrated book, Ehon Joruri Zekku, published in Nagoya by Matsuya Zebei (or Biemon) and in Edo by Kadomaruya Jinsuke in 1815. Hokusai went to Nagoya in 1812 where he lived with his student, Hokutei Bokusen (Gekkotei Bokusen, 1775-1824), who is credited in the ehon colophon as the 'proof-correcting pupil.' In his discussion of the Ehon Joruri Zekku in Hokusai: Life and Work, Richard Lane notes that Hokusai's famous "nervous line" emerges in this period and is noticeable on some of the designs.
The ehon presents scenes from popular joruri--musical performances of narrative song with shamisen accompaniment which are usually enacted with bunraku puppets and sometimes incorporated into kabuki plays. In the book each page illustrates a joruri scene, paired with a Chinese verse by Bokusen. Each of these drawings are numbered in the lower right corner and titled at the upper right with the play, scene, or a famous verse from the joruri, utilizing the same rounded Kanteiryu calligraphy found in the ehon.
1: Some moyo imose no kadomatsu; Act: Mise no dan
2: Kyo habutae shin hanagata; Ohana and Hanshichi; Act: Michiyuki no dan
3: Yugiri and Izaemon; Kuruwa bunsho
4: Koi nyobo somewake tazuna; Act: Sankichi burei no dan
5: Tsumagasane urami no Samezaya
6: Shinrei Yaguchi no watashi; Act: 4
11: Dan-no-ura kabuto gunki; Act: Kinseki no dan
12: Hiragana seisuiki; Act: Yotsume
14: Oshu Adachigahara
15: Natsu matsuri Naniwa kagami
27: Ashiya Doman ouchi kagami; Act: Yotsume
28: Katakiuchi tsuzure no nishiki; Act: Dote no dan
35: Igagoe norikake gappa
36: Kawasaki ondo; Act: Aburaya no dan
40: Imoseyama onna teikin
In Kerlen's indispensable catalogue of Japanese books, his collation of three copies of the ehon tallies 30 sheets, which is the same number as a first edition at The British Museum (accessible online at britishmuseum.org) from the collection of Jack Hillier. The numbering on this collection of drawings correctly correspond to the order as found in the Hillier ehon, which has 26 colored illustrations. However, the drawings numbered higher than 26 (nos. 27, 28, 35, 36 and 40) have no related image in the book. In addition, of four similar drawings in the care of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (purchased from Yamanaka in New York in 1939), two relate to pages in the book (nos. 17 & 26), and two do not. The existance of related drawings that did not make it into the book suggest not only that there was an original intention to include more illustrations or a second volume, but it also lends credence to the possibility that these drawings were not prepared by a follower after the fact, but pre-publication by Hokusai and Bokusen themselves.
Jack Hillier, The Art of Hokusai in Book Illustration, 1980, pp. 132-137, pls. 111 & 112 (see drawing no. 12), 113
Richard Lane, Hokusai: Life and Work, 1989, p.158-162, nos. 210 & 211; pp. 304-305, no. 181
H. Kerlen, Catalogue of Pre-Meiji Japanese Books and Maps in Public Collections in the Netherlands, 1996, p. 294
Jack Hillier Collection, The British Museum, no. 1797,0305,0.427.1 (for 26 designs from the first edition of the 1815 ehon with color)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, four related drawings, object nos. AK-MAK-350 & AK-MAK-351
Tsuruoka Family Collection (the artist and art dealer Tokutaro 'Kakunen' Tsuruoka, 1892-1977)
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am - 5pm, by appointment.
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit.
site last updated
January 16, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...