Nishimura Shigenaga (attributed to)
Bamboo and Tiger
c. 1725

hosoban, 30.6 x 16.0 cm; urushi-e with metallic pigments

This combination of animals and plants, with the tiger as the symbol of female power and the bamboo as the symbol of the male “straightness” is a theme adopted early on from China. It embodies not only the principles of the cosmos (yin and yang), but also possesses an apotropaeic character. Only two other prints from this block, created for the year of the tiger, exist, each of them was hand-coloured in a different manner.

Date: around 1725 Provenance: F.Tikotin, Le Tour de Peilz (May 1964); Carl Schraubstadter(?)
Riese Collection #7

Two other impressions of this charming print, neither of them signed, are known. One, in the collection of Mr. George Mann, Chicago, is printed from the same block as this impression, but is coloured entirely in vermilion, without the flourishes of gold above the bamboo and at the right of the tiger, and without the striking black lacquer shadows on the bamboo. The other impression, in the Buckingham collection (Art Institute of Chicago, p. 189, no. 8), is coloured differently again, in red, yellow, black, and grey with the bamboo a uniform tone from top to bottom. The bamboo leaves at the top of the Buckingham impression differ from the Mann and Riese impressions; the entire upper part of that impression has been replaced and drawn-in by hand. All three impressions are probably contemporary copies of a signed original probably by Shigenaga or Masanobu, and until a signed impression is found, we will not be able to confirm the attribution, which follows that of the Art Institute of Chicago catalogue.
Julius Kurth describes an impression of this print in the Schraubstadter collection catalogue, no. 712, which he also attributes to Shigenaga. Since he described the print as “lightly toned”, and since the Schraubstadter collection was dispersed by Mr. Tikotin, it is likely that he was describing this impression.

Kurth, vol. 1, p. 311, no. 21.
Reproduced in Ingelheim catalogue, no. 12.