Japanese Woodblock Print, Showa era edition from recarved woodblocks, published by Nishinomiya
SIZE IN INCHES: tanzaku, approx. 5 x 15 inches
AN ENDEARING ASPECT OF JAPANESE ART is the ability of artists to project personality onto animals without, as is often the case in Western art, becoming overly sentimental. Artists of the Shijo school, of which Hiroshige was an avid disciple, are particularly known for the warmth and humor of their animal depictions -- qualities that abound in this print of a little, sleepy, brown owl.
The poem refers to the three-day-old moon, when it is at its most delicately beautiful. Here is a translation of the poem:
The long-eared owl
a-sail for a three-day cruise
on the three-night moon,
longs to hear pine music
float slowly through his ears
HIROSHIGE UTAGAWA or Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) was a Japanese artist during the 19th century and is considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement. His approach was more poetic and ambient than the typical ukiyo-e style, and his innovative compositions were a great influence to Western painters, such as Vincent van Gogh. The term ukiyo-e translates to "pictures of the floating world" and refers to a genre of Japanese art with a wide span of imagery such as kabuki actors, folk tales, landscapes, and even erotica. This movement was critical in forming the Western perception of Japanese art.