Ippitsusai Buncho, fl. ca. 1755-90
Eight Views of Inky Water: Night Rain at Hashiba
(Bokusui hakkei: Hashiba no yoru no ame)
signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga with artist's seal Mori uji, with collector's seal HV (Henri Vever), ca. 1768-75
chuban tate-e 10 1/4 by 7 3/4 in., 26 by 19.6 cm
The series title Bokusui hakkei (Eight Views of Inky Water) is a reference to the Sumida River- the primary conduit for Edoites to the various entertainment districts, including the licensed pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara. The title itself is presented within a cartouche in the shape of a sumi ink cake, while the specific location of Hashiba is identified above the cloud-shaped reserve. The Hashiba ferry would carry patrons of the Yoshiwara across the Sumida River to the landing on the eastern shore at Mukojima- a scenic area with teahouses along the shore.
The composition depicts a willowy courtesan adjusting her haircomb while standing on a second story balcony overlooking the Sumida River. She looks down towards the small ferry boats navigating the dark ('inky') waters during a rainstorm; the passengers in one boat shield themselves from the downpour beneath two interlocking umbrellas. The streaks of rain partially obscure the view across the river where we see a single figure wearing a straw rain cape and holding a lantern approaching a teahouse near the shore at Mukojima.
Louis Gonse (1846-1921)
Henri Vever (1854-1942)
Jack Hillier, Japanese Prints & Drawings from the Vever Collection, 1976, p. 223, cat. no. 237
Sadao Kikuchi, A Treasury of Japanese Wood Block Prints: Ukiyo-e, Tokyo National Museum, 1963, cat. no. 418 (with series cartouche and half of the signature trimmed)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Spaulding Collection (Ex. Kobayashi Collection), accession no. 21.4697
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