Beauty with Fireflies

Kubo Shunman (Japanese, 1757–1820)early 1800s

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

A young woman has passed beneath an aged willow tree as she strolls along a riverbank carrying a cage full of fireflies. The painting is the work of Kubo Shunman, best known as a composer of witty verses in 31-syllables (kyōka) and designer of limited edition prints called surimono. Shunman was active during the mature era of ukiyo-e production, and his more formal paintings, such as this one, most often took as their subjects beautiful Chinese or Japanese women. Here, he commemorates one of summer's most delightful evening pastimes, the observation of the flickering lights of the firefly. The woman is presented in a ubiquitous summer setting, a refreshingly cool and breezy riverbank in earshot of rustling willow leaves.

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  • Title: Beauty with Fireflies
  • Creator: Kubo Shunman (Japanese, 1757–1820)
  • Date Created: early 1800s
  • Physical Dimensions: Mounted: 181.5 x 45.6 cm (71 7/16 x 17 15/16 in.); Painting: 95.6 x 33.2 cm (37 5/8 x 13 1/16 in.)
  • Provenance: The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, 2015-present
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/2015.85
  • Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk (ivory roller ends)
  • Inscriptions: Signed at lower left: Shosado Shunman Sealed at lower left: round red seal; Shunman
  • Department: Japanese Art
  • Culture: Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Kelvin Smith Family
  • Collection: ASIAN - Hanging scroll
  • Accession Number: 2015.85

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