We see depicted here a calico cat looking back. In fact this cat is made by the combination of 19 smaller cats. Upon closer examination of this picture, we can find many cats posing and lying on top of each other. Ukiyo-e artist, Utagawa Yoshifuji, who depicted this print, was one of the pupils of the Kuniyoshi School. A picture composed by the combination of objects is generally called “yose-e” (assemblage picture). Kuniyoshi executed many works of yose-e full of humor. We can see that Yoshifuji was an artist who inherited well the sense of humor of Kuniyoshi. Moreover, the sentence written on the top of the picture means: “Forming a big cat by the combination of 19 smaller ones is a joke of the artist”. Even for people at the time, this picture would have been considered as something unique and enjoyable. Though the big cat is little bit scary here, the facial expression of each smaller cat is very gentle. Yoshifuji seems to have succeeded in inheriting not only his master’s sense of humor but also his love and gentle look towards cats.
“Forming a Big Cat by Gathering Small Ones”●
●Kobayashi Ikuhide “Cats Playing Sport” (will be exhibited in the 2nd term)
Appearances of long-legged cats dressed in Western style clothes reflect the inflow of Western culture after the Meiji Restoration.
●“Dōke Sakana Ichiba” private collection (will be exhibited in the 1st term)
According to the conversation between the people in the work, the cats are eating a fish called “konoshiro”. Konoshiro (kono means “this” and shiro means “castle”) refers to Edo castle, and the people surrounding the cats represent feudal clans such as Satsuma and Aizu. Therefore, the artwork is a depiction of the end of the Edo period and the disruptions in the country.
●“ Board Game : Jūroku Musashi” private collection (will be exhibited the 1st and 2nd term)
●Uatgawa Kuniyoshi “Kagamiyama” (will be exhibited in the 2nd term)
●Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Futatsu Chōchō Kuruwa Nikki : Filed for Sumo Wrestling”
(will be exhibited in the 1st term)
The guardians of hell are all frightening cats.
The charm of cats lies in their constanly changing rich expressions and their carefree appearances as they roam around. The imagination of ukiyo-e artists stimulated by these charms created piece after piece of unique artworks. It is no exaggeration to say that the animal that is featured the most in ukiyo-e works is the cat. For example, Kuniyoshi exhibits original and striking ideas such as filling up the screen with personified cats or bringing together cats to form words. He even used cat patterns in the kimonos worn by dandy men and beautiful women. The creativity of ukiyo-e artists involving cats is amazing even when seen today.
●Kobayashi Ikuhide “Cats Relaxing in Hot Springs” private collection (will be exhibited the 1st term)
We will also have on display Kuniyoshi’s rare works. These works include “Ryūkō Neko Jarashi,” which has been confirmed as the only print of its kind, as well as round fan prints that are going to be on exhibition for the first time.
3. Introducing One of a Kind Works by Kuniyoshi
●Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Reputed Chivalrous Men Wearing Kimono with Patterns Designed by Kuniyoshi: Nozarashi Gosuke (will be exhibited during the 1st term)
●Utagawa Kunitoshi “Newly Published Various Cats” private collection (will be exhibited the 2nd term)
2. Full Line-up of Ukiyo-e by the Kuniyoshi School
Kuniyoshi created many pictures of cats using his rich imagination. His passion was fully inherited by his pupils. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, who was known for chimidoro-e, (bloody paintings) also depicted adorable pet cats. Additionally, Yoshifuji, who was good at depicting omocha-e (toy pictures) in prints for children, also depicted personified cats. Other than those two artists, we will also exhibit the works of Yoshiiku, Yoshitora, Yoshitama, Yoshikazu, and Yoshitsuya, all of whom were pupils of the Kuniyoshi School. It may be interesting to compare the appearances of cats by different ukiyo-e artists.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Fashionable Cats Juggling Balls”
(will be exhibited in the 1st and 2nd term)
【Highlight Work of the Exhibition】
【Composition of the Exhibition】
Chapter 1 : Hundred Images of Cats
Chapter 2 : A Cat’s Day～Cats Playing, Falling Asleep and Being Scolded
Chapter 3 : Cat Monster
Chapter 4 : Star Actor: Cat
Chapter 5 : Job and Play of Cat
Chapter 6: Case Files of Cat
Chapter 7: Cat Town
Chapter 8: Picture Book about Cat
4, Cat toys for the Edo Children
Omocha-e (toy prints) were made for children from the end of the Edo period to the middle of the Meiji period. The omocha-e depict a variety of cats living and acting like humans. We exhibit here a multitude of artwork featuring board game pieces made to look like cats and mice, which were used by ordinary people in their everyday lives.
●Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Cats Join to Form the Vocabulary of Fish: Bonito” (will be exhibited during the 1st and 2nd term)
Throughout the ages, the cat has held a place close to human beings. Edo people also kept cats as pets and treated them with affection. In recent years, photograph collections and videos of cats are very popular but it seems that this was also the case in the Edo period. In the works of ukiyo-e wood-block prints depicting the lives of ordinary people in the Edo period, one can often see cats being playful or dozing beside the owner. However, cats depicted in ukiyo-e prints are not just adorable. Frightening cat monsters from tales and humorously personified cats were also commonly depicted. Through these diverse works, we can understand how the cats were loved and were part of the daily lives of Edo people. Ukiyo-e artist, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who has become a figure of interest in recent years, is such a representative of the cat loving Edo people. Rumored to have kept more than 10 cats in his house, the cats depicted by Kuniyoshi are adorable and full of energy. In this exhibition, 243 works of cats by Kuniyoshi and his pupils will be gathered and shown. The total number of cats found in the works is an astounding 2321. The rich world woven by cats and people will be enjoyable not only for ukiyo-e fans but for everyone.
"One Hundred Images of Cats
-Many Varieties of Cats by Kuniyoshi "
5, Cats Reflecting the Ages
Cats had existed within the everyday lives of people in the past. Ukiyo-e prints of cats changed with events of the time. As the Edo period ended and Western influence as well as social disruption increased, the ways in which cats were depicted changed and often adopted Western characteristics of art or commented on period changes.
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●Kobayashi Kiyochika “Cat and a Lantern” (will be exhibited during the 1st term)
( Will be closed on June 4, 11, 18, 25, 27～29th / July 2, 9, 17,. 23rd)
●Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Ryūkō Neko Jarashi (Dancing Cats)” (will be exhibited in the 1st and 2nd term)
1, 2321 Edo Cats Gathered in One Place
-Cat Boom in the Edo Period-