Peonies at Twilight, with Corresponding Poem by Takahama Kyoshi
Traditional Japanese woodblock prints were usually created through collaboration between the artist, carver, printer, and publisher. And though motifs did recur, these works were not homogenous. There has been a longstanding typology which acknowledges different pictorial subjects, formal treatment, and the mode of production.
For this way of printing, each colour used would need its own block to be carved. Though early prints typically used up to three inks, the number later grew for artwork comprised of multiple colours. These ‘Nishiki-e’ would set the stage for the rising popularity of prints. One designer of woodblock artwork who contributed greatly toward this was Suzuki Harunobu (1725 – 1770). Many of his prints have a solid single-colour background, a technique called ‘tsubushi’.
The inclusion of poetry was not uncommon among privately commissioned ‘surimono’ works. With these woodblocks the carving of kanji characters was especially challenging. As standard, seasonal themes were referenced in haiku, foregrounding the connection between poetry and nature.
Artwork with Poetry
Peonies at Twilight (2024) is part of an ongoing exploration of Japanese visual culture. The featured poem is one of summer:
夏の蝶 眼鋭く 駆けり来し
The clear day in the rainy season.
The madder red of evening twilight
And instantly fades.
Giclée printed onto archival quality 308gsm Hahnemule paper, this unique art-print is available framed. Drop an email if interested.