Kitao Masayoshi 北尾政美: Pied Wagtail, Lotus and Iris Plants

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Artist: Keisai 蕙斎 (Kuwagata Shôshin 鍬形紹真 Kitao Masayoshi 北尾政美)
Title: Pied Wagtail, Lotus and Iris Plants
Date: 1789 (this edition ca. early 1800s)

Wagtail (Sekirei). A wagtail perches in a marsh on a dried lotus pod, facing towards a flowering lotus and lovely yellow flowering plant. Each plant has distinctively shaped leaves. The Met Museum notes that the conceit of this album is that the birds were “imported” from China via Nagasaki–however, this bird is commonly found in Japan. Hillier notes that this series has an “exotic” flavor, as Masayoshi based his drawings on those of a Chinese artist.  Hillier also notes that Masayoshi was unusual in that unlike most of the Ukiyo-e artists, he was not tied to Edo or the normal range of [ukiyo-e] subjects. Terrific and scarce kacho-e; this edition matches the Chazen Museum example which was purchased in 1929. This edition of this work has the artist’s signature and seal, so it must be from a second edition, probably printed sometime in the early 19th century. The MFA also has a signed version of a design from this album. The first edition was published in 1789 and it was republished in 1793. 


Condition: Excellent impression and color; very good condition. Surface soil lower left and pinhole at right.
Dimensions: 25.7 x 38.5 cm
Literature: Jack Hillier, “The Art of the Japanese Book” (1987), pages 469-470. See MET Museum. RISD museum, Chazen. 
Signature: Keisai sha