This beautiful volume celebrates the tradition of the Japanese surimono print. Produced from around 1800 until 1840, during the Edo period, surimono (“printed things” in Japanese) combine intricate artwork and playful poetry, and their small print runs and exclusive audiences allowed for lavish yet subtle surface treatments, such as embossing and gilding. Enjoyed for their learned allusions to literature and contemporary culture, surimono continue to delight and perplex scholars with their visual puns and wordplay. Imagery ranges from delicate, domestic still lifes to spirited vignettes of the natural world, while the poems are often lighthearted takes on the classical Japanese waka form. With its rich text and scholarly apparatus—including names and titles in kanji characters as well as transliterations and translations of the poems on the catalogued prints—The Private World of Surimono serves as a critical resource for scholars of Japanese art and history and offers general readers insight into this rare and innovative print form.
With detailed and erudite entries on 60 prints … the catalogue is beautifully produced, befitting the subject matter. —John T. Carpenter