Katsushika Hokusai
Iris, Wild Pinks and Kingfisher

Signed: Zen Hokusai I’itsu hitsu; Publisher’s seal: Eijudō (Nishimuraya Yohachi); censor’s seal: kiwame; chūban, 24.5 x 17.5 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

From an untitled series on birds and flowers. The caption on the upper right reads: kawasemi (kingfisher), shaga (Iris japonica) und nadeshiko (carnations). The following two lines of Chinese poetry praise the kingfisher’s beauty: “It turns its head, when it alights, / and resembles a moving jewel in deep blue and green.” Hokusai was inspired here by Chinese painting of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), while Hiroshige tended to draw images like this after nature.

Gift of Ernst Boehringer (1964)
Riese Collection #118

Hokusai designed two sets of prints with natural subjects, a set of ten horizontal ôban of flowers, which is reproduced in the Gale catalogue (nos. 206-215), and the present set of at least six subjects of birds and flowers in the half-block, chūban format. Unlike Hiroshige’s bird and flower prints, which were drawn, composed and printed in a manner very reminiscent of the Shijō style of painting which flourished during this period, Hokusai’s birds and flowers are drawn with the same wiry outline and his pictures are composed with the same striking brilliance of his painting of this period. The names of the bird and flowers are given in the upper right-hand corner of the print, followed by a couplet in Sino-Japanese.
Perhaps at this time, perhaps later in the century, a set of deceptive copies of the small birds was published. They are on a thin, Chinese-like paper, and have distinctly different seals. This print is from the original edition which is rare.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 109.