Western Pocket Watch
From the Spring Rain Collection (Harusame shū), vol. 3
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, Tokyo (Edo) 1797–1858 Tokyo (Edo))
Edo period (1615–1868)
Part of an album of woodblock prints (surimono); ink and color on paper
7 11/16 x 6 1/4 in. (19.5 x 15.9 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Surimono are privately published woodblock prints, usually commissioned by individual poets or poetry groups as a form of New Year’s greeting card. The poems, most commonly kyōka (witty thirty-one-syllable verse), inscribed on the prints usually include felicitous imagery connected with spring, which in the lunar calendar begins on the first day of the first month. Themes of surimono are often erudite, frequently alluding to Japanese literary classics in both texts and images.
This album forms part of a set of three containing more than four hundred surimono. The prints are arranged on facing leaves according to themes or in a way that creates an attractive arrangement of designs, complementary in both color and shape. The printing techniques, pigments, and paper used for surimono were often the highest quality, and represent the epitome of late Edo-period woodblock printing.
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