Painter Sketching in Ueno Park
signed within the composition with his address at lower right, Yonezawa-cho, itsucho-me, juuichi banchi, Kobayashi Kiyochika ga, and publisher's address and name, Yoshikawa-cho, nibanchi, Matsuki Heikichi (Matsuki Toko, 1836-1891), ca. 1876
oban yoko-e 10 by 14 1/2 in., 25.5 by 36.9 cm
A careful examination of the shading on the print reveals the unusual use of a net pattern which Henry Smith discusses pertaining to a famous large-format print by Kiyochika, Cat and Lantern, published by Matsuki in a tiny edition of only a five or six impressions (although there were subsequent later very small editions) and submitted the First Domestic Industrial Exposition in 1877. The charming composition of a cat cornering a rat inside an overturned and still lit lantern was produced utilizing an ambitious adaptation of Western shading techniques which was intended to demonstrate that Japanese woodblock printing can achieve all of the same visual effects as copperplate and end-grain wood engravings. In 1918, a leading lithographer (and sometimes woodblock print artist) Oda Kazuma (1881-1956) theorized that Kiyochika's use of the net pattern was also in response to its use in color lithography which was increasingly available by that time in Japan.
Tokichi Sakai, Kiyochika, The Japan Association for the Preservation of Ukiyo-e, translation by N.S. Gankow, 1969, no. 12
Henry D. Smith II, Kiyo-Chika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, pp. 26-27; 32-33 (re: net pattern)
Hideki Kikkawa, Kobayashi Kiyochika: Studies in Light and Shadow of the Westernization of Japan, Seigensha Art Publishing, 2015, p. 19, no. 17
Kobayashi Kiyochika: A Retrospective, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2016, p. 31, no. 28
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.30347
(inv. no. 10-4824)
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