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

The Painting Manual of Flock of Butterflies (Gunchō Gafu)


Surimono, shikishi-ban; polychrome woodblock prints with silver and other metallic pigment and gauffrage

sheet: 8 1/16 × 7 1/4 in. (20.5 × 18.4 cm)
Promised gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

窪俊満 「群蝶画譜」より  江戸時代

This exquisite series of butterfly prints was based on a painting manual (gunchō gafu) designed by Kubo Shunman that was probably printed toward the end of the artist’s career, in the 1810s. The series was commissioned by the poetry enthusiasts in the Kasumi-ren (Mist Club) of the Yomo-gawa (Four Directions Group), and it is one of the most celebrated highlights of the Drosten-Kenadjian collection. The fluttering butterflies and moths are depicted with their wings fully open, showing off their colors and patterns, and each species can be distinguished, suggesting they were rendered with some degree of observational accuracy. Such precision is consistent with the goals of “nature studies,” or honzōgaku, which were the first studies of the natural sciences in Japan. In the poems, the butterflies take on the merrymaking guises of a Kabuki player and courtesans.

On view
Edo period (1615–1868) Bunka era (1804–18)
Works on Paper - Prints

Collection of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian.


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), 172–79, no. 47, 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.