Hiroshige: Kingfisher and Japanese Snowball Flowers 藪手毬に川蝉 (Doublefile Viburnum) (SOLD)
Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige
Title: Kingfisher and Doublefile Virburnum 藪手毬に川蝉 (Japanese Snowball) Flowers Yabudemari ni kawasemi
Date: ca. 1830s
A kingfisher sits on a branch of blooming Japanese snowball (Viburnum plicatum), its wings partially spread, perhaps drying them a bit in the sun. This plant with pleated leaves and showy clusters of white flowers blooms in the springtime and is native to Japan. The Japanese poem reads: Kawasemi no/ hane o yosoute/ mizu kagami 川蝉の 羽を粧ふて 水かゝみ and seems to refer to a man preening in a mirror before going out to meet women: “The kingfisher preening his feathers in a watery mirror.” It seems that in Japan the kingfisher is seen as a symbol of vanity, perhaps due to its striking plumage and tendency to look at the water while searching for fish. Hiroshige’s kacho-e, or bird-and-flower pictures are both sought-after and scarce.
Condition: Very good impression and color. Good/fair condition. Some repairs and soiling to paper and some trimming. Scarce.
Dimensions: 34 x 11 cm
Literature: The RISD Museum has an example of this work from the collection of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr (object number 34.157). See also the MFA Boston, the Chazen Museum and the MIA collections.
Signature: Hiroshige hitsu