Lacquer tray with objects and poems (surimono), January 1869 or January 1870

by Shibata Zeshin

IHL Cat. #2044

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About This Print

Being a painter of the Shijō school, Zeshin's surimono have been referred to as "Shijō surimono." Robert Schapp writes, "Shijō surimono seemed to have flourished mainly after the gradual disappearance of their ukiyo-e counterparts in the 1830s. And based on his sound Shijō education the talented Zeshin soon became one of the leading designers for Shijō surimono in Edo." He notes that while the total number of surimono designed by Zeshin is unknown, it may run into the thousands.[1]

In this 21 inch long print, two ornate bottles with fan-shaped stoppers rest on a lacquer tray with several unidentified objects. Fifty-nine haikai (seventeen syllable poems) are written to the left of the image, along with the names of their composers, with the date, either Meiji 2 (1869) January or Meiji 3 (1870) January, written in the last column on the left, above the signature and seal of the calligrapher. 

The Art Institute Chicago notes, "Many examples of large-scale surimono by Shibata Zeshin exist; he must have set up a large establishment in order to cater to orders from poets and intellectuals. Since Zeshin was engaged in many official commissions in other media and had a large group of apprentices, he probably left most of the details of surimono production to his apprentices."[2]

[1] "Zeshin's Shijō surimono and his later shikishiban prints," by Robert Schapp, Andon 102, Journal of the Society of Japanese Arts, October 2016, p. 55-67.

[2] Art Institute Chicago

Print Details

artist signature and seal


calligrapher signature and seal