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Loan Object
Artist: Totoya Hokkei, Japanese, 1780–1850

Still Life Celebrating the Birth of Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII

1824 (Year of the Monkey)

Surimono, shikishi-ban; polychrome woodblock print with brass and silver pigment (some burnished) and gauffrage

sheet: 8 1/8 × 7 3/16 in. (20.7 × 18.3 cm)
Promised gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

魚屋北渓 八代目市川團十郎誕生祝い 江戸時代

The son of the famous Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjūrō VII was born on November 7, 1823. The baby’s birth and first year, celebrated the following spring according to the custom of the time, are commemorated by this print. Among celebratory and congratulatory items, the red-and-white robes at top right are baby clothes to be worn at the “first dressing ceremony” of an infant. They are decorated with turtles, cranes, pines, and bamboo—all auspices of a long and happy life—as well as the Ichikawa acting crest, consisting of three concentric squares. The poem along the left margin, by Kitsujuen Sanae—a member of the Go-gawa (Five Directions Group), who commissioned the print‚ is a benediction to the new child. It compares his arrival to the budding of a pine, a tree richly symbolic of permanence that is also used in New Year’s decorations.

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

Collection of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian. Purchased from Joan B. Mirviss Ltd.


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), 107–9, no. 26, fig. 1.

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.