Miyagawa Chōshun, Pastimes of the new year and flower viewing, a pair of handscroll paintings


British Museum

British Museum

Although most Ukiyo-e artists concentrated on the theatre and pleasure quarters as their subjects, there was still a vogue for pictures of seasonal or monthly events and pastimes around the city of Edo. The first of this pair of hand scrolls shows both indoor and outdoor games and pastimes for the New Year, such as battledore and shuttlecock, bouncing ball, backgammon, cards and painting. In the second scroll, groups of revellers celebrate the spring by dancing, eating and drinking beneath the flowering cherry trees. Chōshun, like many Ukiyo-e artists had a keen eye for striking combinations of colour and pattern in the textiles of the kimonos, and the figures are drawn with a fine clarity of detail.

Miyagawa Chōshun (?1682-1752) was one of the major Ukiyo-e artists of the first half of the eighteenth century. Unusually for an Ukiyo-e artist, he produced only paintings, and not woodblock prints as well. He was strongly influenced by the example of the earlier master Hishikawa Moronobu (died 1694), especially in his choice of subject matter and formats. Indeed, in some of his paintings Chōshun seems to copy some of Moronobu's groups of figures almost exactly.

The signature reads 'Nihon-e Miyagawa Chōshun zu' ('Japanese picture drawn by Miyagawa Chōshun'). The seal reads 'Chōshun no in'.

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  • Title: Miyagawa Chōshun, Pastimes of the new year and flower viewing, a pair of handscroll paintings
  • Date Created: 1716/1736
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 40.10cm (c. each); Width: 510.00cm (c. each)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: fuzoku; seasons; courtesan/prostitute; dance; battle dore; shuttlecock; backgammon; card-playing; music
  • Registration number: 1881,1210,0.1707-1708
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Miyagawa Choshun
  • Period/culture: Kyoho Era
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Anderson, William