Shunsho 春章: Women Chopping Mulberry Leaves for Sericulture (Silk Production)

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Artist: Katsukawa Shunshô 勝川春章
Title: Women Engaged in Sericulture

Series:  Silkworm Cultivation (Kaiko yashinai gusa, dai-shi)
Date: Ca. 1770s

Number three from the series that illustrates the stages of silkworm production, a theme for which Utamaro also created a series. Sericulture was a money-earning activity usually done by women, often from home. As silkworm moths only eat the leaves of the mulberry tree, parts of the production process involve harvesting and chopping the leaves, as shown in this design. A woman at left sprinkles the cut leaves over a tray of the moth pupae, and we can see more shelves that are being stored at top left. From a series of twelve chuban prints that illustrated the cultivation of silkworms. Six of the designs were by Katsukawa Shunsho and six were by Kitao Shigemasa. There were several editions printed in the 1770s and 1780s. It is nice to see the fugitive blues and purple pigments well-preserved, as here.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: chuban (26 x 19 cm)
Signature: Katsukawa Shunsho ga

Literature: See British Museum, number 1908,0718,0.3 for their  example in poor condition that seems to be from a later edition. See MFA for their poor example. See Tokyo Fuji Art Museum for complete set. Hizô Ukiyo-e taikan/Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections 10, Museo d'Arte Orientale, Genoa, I (1988), fig. 81.