Morning glory flowers, calligraphy brush and poems (surimono), c. 1865-1880s

by Shibata Zeshin

IHL Cat. #2042


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 print, three Japanese morning glory flowers, asagao 朝顔, appear with a calligraphy brush. Eighteen haikai (seventeen syllable poems) and the names of their composers are written to the left of the image, with the signature and seal of the calligrapher in the leftmost column.

The Art Institute Chicago notes, "Many examples of large-scale [and smaller] 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

Morning glory flowers, calligraphy brush and poems #2042

artist signature and seal

calligrapher signature and seal