Red-Flanked Bluetail on a Cherry Branch Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)

ca. 1830

Asian Art

歌川広重 桜にルリビタキ 浮世絵錦絵 江戸時代

Although it is called a bush warbler in the kyōka (crazy poem) at top right, this bird closely resembles a red-flanked bluetail, a migratory species that spends the warmer months of the year in northeast Asia. Here, Utagawa Hiroshige depicts a male bluetail on a cherry branch, singing melodies to attract females during the mating season. Such scenes of chirping birds on delicately rendered tree branches have a long history in East Asian painting, but Hiroshige transposed the subject to the popular and accessible medium of print. The kyōka reads, "Japanese bush warbler / two gallons and a half [paid with rice] / thicket ground tax." In 1745 a new tax was imposed on bamboo thickets; while the chirping of the bird signaled the advent of spring, it also announced the coming of the taxman.


Ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print


sheet: 14 3/4 × 4 7/8 in. (37.5 × 12.4 cm)

Credit Line

Frances Gaylord Smith Collection

Accession Number



Edo period (1615–1868)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Charles Jacquin collection; sale Walpole Galleries, Jan. 22, 1921; sold to Frances Gaylord Smith (Mrs. George T. Smith), Jan. 22, 1921; by descent to nephew Gaylord Donnelley (1910–1992) and Dorothy Ranney Donnelley (1910–2002), by 1969; loaned in 1969, and given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1972
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

color woodcuts


Ichiryū-sai 壱立斎 (rectangular, relief, lower left after the signature)\r\nPublisher’s seal mark: Kawashō 川正 (two marks combined, rectangular, intaglio, upper right)\r\n


Poem: “Uguisu ya/ ni-shō gongo no/ yabu nengu” 鶯や 二升五ん五能 藪年貢\r\n“Bush warbler/ a gallon and a half/ thicket ground tax.”\r\n


“Hiroshige hitsu” (“brushed by Hiroshige”) 廣重筆 (lower left)

Technical metadata and APIs


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