Nishimura Shigenaga
Four Seasons – Autumn Moon above the Reception RoomFour Seasons – Autumn Moon above the Reception Room

Signed: gakō Nishimura Shigenaga hitsu, artist’s seal: Shigenaga; hosoban, 33.0 x 15.9 cm; beni-e with metallic pigments

This print is an outstanding work by Shigenaga, notable for the freshness and beauty of its colouring and the poetry of its design. A courtesan, with a pipe in her hand, is looking up at the moon, lost in thought. Her kimono is decorated with simple plants like bamboo, plum trees and carnations, with a thatch-roofed house underlining the bucolic nature of the overall scene.

Provenance: R.G.Sawers, London (November 1967)
Riese Collection #8

An outstanding print, remarkable for the freshness and beauty of its colouring as much as for the poetry of its conceptions and design. Another somewhat later impression of the print with noticeable breaks in the key block and different colouring was owned by the French collector Henri Vever (Sotheby’s, 26 march 1975, no. 22). This was undoubtedly the print James Michener had in mind when he wrote about Shigenaga that “He painted some of the finest lacquer prints, one of which is extraordinarily lovely, with a courtesan smoking a long pipe on a porch as she watches the evening moon rise across a river.”
(The Floating World, p.78).
Shigenaga, of course, neither engraved nor coloured his own prints. His contribution was the drawing on thin paper which was pasted face down on the wood block and destroyed in the process of engraving. But Michener quite properly singles out this design among Shigenaga’s work, and other prints of the period were special.

Reproduced in Riese, Asiatische Studien, 1972, p. 76, pl. 3