Beauty with Fireflies

Beauty with Fireflies

early 1800s

after Kubo Shunman 窪 俊満

(Japanese, 1757-1820)

Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk (ivory roller ends)

Mounted: 181.5 x 45.6 cm (71 7/16 x 17 15/16 in.); Painting: 95.6 x 33.2 cm (37 5/8 x 13 1/16 in.)

Gift of the Kelvin Smith Family 2015.85

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Description

A young woman has passed beneath an aged willow tree as she strolls along a riverbank carrying a cage full of fireflies. The painting is the work of Kubo Shunman, best known as a composer of witty verses in 31-syllables (kyōka) and designer of limited edition prints called surimono. Shunman was active during the mature era of ukiyo-e production, and his more formal paintings, such as this one, most often took as their subjects beautiful Chinese or Japanese women. Here, he commemorates one of summer's most delightful evening pastimes, the observation of the flickering lights of the firefly. The woman is presented in a ubiquitous summer setting, a refreshingly cool and breezy riverbank in earshot of rustling willow leaves.

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