Rabbit in the Snow beneath the Moon 月下の兎

Katsushika Hokushū 葛飾北秀 Japanese

Not on view

A white rabbit crouches in the snow beneath a silvery moon emerging from the clouds. A few buds and blossoms of plum are scattered nearby.This surimono (privately published woodblock print) was created to celebrate the first lunar month of spring of the year of the rabbit, 1819. The poet Chōkandō Harumichi 長閑堂春道 wrote a 31-syllable kyōka verse on the traditional poetic topic of snow, moon and flowers, and how they all appear together in this New Year’s scene:

あわ雪の いろに月花 照そひて
おもしろきことの そろう春かな

The colors of the moon
and blossoms shimmer
in the light snow—
what a delightful surprise
for all to be arrayed this spring!

(Trans. John T. Carpenter)

The artist Hokushū became a pupil of the famous Katsushika Hokusai in the 1810s and was primarily active as a surimono illustrator and book illustrator. He also used the art names Joryūken 如柳軒, Joryū 如柳 (as in the seal here), and Taisōsha 戴藻舎 (recalling one of Hokusai’s art names, Taitō 戴斗).

Rabbit in the Snow beneath the Moon 月下の兎, Katsushika Hokushū 葛飾北秀 (Japanese, active ca. 1810s–1830s), Woodblock print (surimono); ink, color, and metallic pigments on paper, Japan

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