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Asian Art
Artist: Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese, 1760–1849

Ono no Komachi, from the series Portraits of Six Poets

ca. 1809–10

Ukiyo-e; polychrome woodblock print

Unframed h. 14 7/8 in (37.8 cm) W. 9 3/4 in (24.8 cm) Framed H. 22 in (55.9 cm) W. 16 in (40.6 cm)
Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Gift of Mrs. William H. Moore
1950.542

葛飾北斎 「六歌仙の内 小野小町」 浮世絵錦絵 江戸時代

There are more legends than facts about Ono no Komachi, but she was without a doubt a great poet, active during the early Heian period. It is said that she was very beautiful and that she served as a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court. Her love affairs have become subjects for plays and stories, but from her poetry, one senses that she had complex feelings regarding love. Most of her extant works touch upon this theme in some capacity. As expected, the poem that accompanies her in this print is her famous love poem: “Iro mie de / utsurou mono wa / yo no naka no / hito no kokoro no / hana ni zo arikeru” (That which fades / without seeing color / is the flower within / the heart of the people / of this world).

Geography: 
Japan
Status: 
By appointment
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

Mrs. William H. Moore (1858–1955) New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

George J. Lee, Edo Culture in Japanese prints, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1972), 42, no. 4.

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.