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Asian Art
Artist: Torii Kiyomitsu II, Japanese, 1787–1868

Lobster Treasure Boat (Takarabune)

1832 (Year of the Dragon)

Surimono, horizontal double ō-ban; polychrome woodblock print

sheet: 41.9 × 53 cm (16 1/2 × 20 7/8 in.)
Gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

二代目鳥居清満 宝船 江戸時代

This life-size lobster in this impressively large surimono, floating on billowing waves and surrounded by symbols of felicity and fortune, is a visual jest, standing in for the more conventional image of a treasure boat (Takarabune), which was an essential component to traditional Japanese New Year’s celebrations. Emblazoned in the center is the triple-square crest of the Ichikawa family of Kabuki-play actors, which also serves as the image of a ship’s sail. The surimono commemorates the name-taking ceremony of Danjūrō VIII, the nine-year-old son of the most celebrated actor of the time, Danjūrō VII, who wrote the palindromic poem above the boat using one of his pen names, Hakuen VII, or the “White Monkey VII.”

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

Joan B. Mirviss (dealer), New York; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 2016 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017—2018); given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2018


“Acquisitions July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/bulletin/Pub-Bull-acquisitions-2018.pdf (accessed December 1, 2018).

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), 144–46, no. 38, 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.