Yoshitoshi 芳年: The Poetess Chiyo 千代能かいたゝく桶の底ぬけてミつたまらねハ月もやとらす (SOLD)

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 芳年 (1839-1892)
Title: The Poetess Chiyo 千代能かいたゝく桶の底ぬけてミつたまらねハ月もやとらす
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon 月百姿
Date: 1889

The poetess and painter Chiyo, who lived in Kaga in the early 18th century,  is best known for her poem about a well bucket and morning glory flowers. One morning when she went to draw water from her well, the fast-growing morning-glory vine had climbed up the well rope during the night. Rather than disturb the beauty of the asagao flowers, she went to her neighbor’s house with the haiku:

“Morning glories have taken my bucket so I ask for water”. 

There is a different poem on the cartouche here, perhaps written by Yoshitoshi himself:“The bottom of the bucket/which Lady Chiyo filled has fallen out/the moon has no home in the water”. This humorous story takes the associations of Chiyo’s original poem and creates a new story. The moon was considered its most beautiful when reflected in water, even in the water of a well bucket. If the bucket has spilled, one can no longer see the moon’s reflection. Here we see the full moon of late autumn above, the round persimmon fruits above also echoing its shape. Chiyo seems to have just dropped her bucket after drawing it from the well, she seems almost lost in reverie, perhaps her thoughts filled with poetry. She wears the fashions of the early 1700s, including a kimono with chrysanthemum flowers against shibori patterns. This is an exquisitely early impression, with deep blindprinting on the title cartouche and perfectly sharp lines, especially those comprising her facial features and hairline. There is also oxidation on the red of her kimono and on the fruits of the persimmon tree.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban 35.5 x 24 cm
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Literature: John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (San Francisco: San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992), number 44. See British Museum, Portland Art Museum.
Signature: Yoshitoshi