SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery is closed to the public until further notice. Learn More

Loan Object
Artist: Kubo Shunman, Japanese, 1757–1820

Two Bullfinches on a Double-Petalled Cherry Tree (Uso ni Yae-zakura)

ca. mid-1810s

Surimono, shikishi-ban; polychrome woodblock print with gauffrage

sheet: 8 1/16 × 7 5/16 in. (20.5 × 18.5 cm)
Promised gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

窪俊満 鷽に八重桜 江戸時代

Like many artists of the time, Kubo Shunman was a prolific ukiyo-e painter, book illustrator, and kyōka poet. He also designed and painted many bijinga, or paintings of beautiful women. In this print, Shunman portrays a serene image of two birds perched on a cherry branch. The double-petalled cherry blossoms are clearly defined in gauffrage. The word uso means both “bullfinch” and “a lie.” This dual meaning implies multiple layers of significance in the scene: Shunman’s delicate yet clear outlining of the two birds reinforces their perfection, beauty, and happiness, but the viewer is brought back to less idyllic realities with the poem’s introduction of the word “matchmaker” (nakōdo). In a society where family lineages and continuity were treasured and even vital, finding a mate—often negotiated through a matchmaker—could be fraught with complications.

On view
Edo period (1615–1868)
Works on Paper - Prints

Huguette Beres, (nee Orefice) (1914–1999), Paris, France; sale Sotheby's Paris 11/27/2002 lot 83; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 2002 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017—present)


Sadako Ohki and Adam Haliburton, The Private World of Surimono: Japanese Prints from the Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian Collection (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2020), 186–88, no. 50, ill.

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 such records is ongoing.