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E-hon chiyomigusa, “Illustrated book of the thousand floating grasses”

E-hon chiyomigusa, “Illustrated book of the thousand floating grasses”

Black and white print on paper, 2 volumes

Ink on paper
H : 27 cm L : 18.5 cm
M.C. 4749

Sukenobu was born and lived in Kyōto. He studied painting with Kano Einō and then with Tosa Mitsusuke. He is known as a prolific book illustrator (he collaborated on the creation of over 200 works), and for his prints and kimono motifs. Influenced by Moronobu, the great master of the Ukiyo-e school (or “painting of the floating world”), he developed a personal style, first in illustrations for novels and kabuki pieces, then in prints inspired by daily life in ancient Japan. Sukenobu became famous in 1699, when he was just 28 years old, for a book dedicated to actors and courtesans, Yakusha kō shamisen. He then published an entire series of albums, including Ehon shi no kōshō, a study of different classes of society. But he is especially known for books and albums of bijin (beautiful women) and his erotic prints, or shunga. From 1716 to 1741, he particularly painted scenes from the daily life of women. Bourgeois or courtesans, women are at the heart of a work with a refined and elegant style, in the tradition of Kyōto artists, oozing with poetry. This tradition influenced the great artists of the next generation, including Harunobu and Shunshō.

The copy acquired by Cernuschi, perhaps during his trip to Japan, is the oldest printed work in his collection, dating back to just past the artist’s death between 1750 and 1754. Note that the collection assembled by Théodore Duret, Cernuschi’s friend and travel companion on his trip to Japan, now kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), also includes a copy in 3 volumes written by Fujimura Zenemon, in Ōsaka, in 1735 (T. Duret, 1900, number 88).

Collection : Japanese graphic arts
Mode d'acquisition : Bequest of Henri Cernuschi, 1896.
  • E-hon Chiyomigusa («livre illustré des mille herbes flottantes»)

E-hon Chiyomigusa («livre illustré des mille herbes flottantes»)
© Musée Cernuschi