Winter Play

Woodblock Print
1765-1770 (made)
Winter Play thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Suzuki Harunobu was a printmaker and painter of the Edo period (1615–1868) and a seminal figure in the history of Japanese art. His most accomplished prints date to the last five years of his life and utilise new developments in the production of polychrome prints from multiple woodblocks. By carving registration marks (kentô) on the block and using them to align the paper, artists were no longer limited in the number of blocks they could use to produce a single print. Such prints are called nishiki-e (‘brocade pictures’) after the magnificent brocades produced in the Nishijin district of Kyoto.

Despite the wealth of colour choices afforded him by developments in printing from woodblocks, Harunobu here chooses a muted palette. Within a frame in the shape of a Japanese fan, a Chinese child puts the final touches on a snow dog as his friend watches. The hairstyles and clothing of the children in this print identify them as karako, often translated as 'Chinese boys'. This motif originated in the Chinese theme of 'one hundred boys playing'. Although perhaps most often associated with pictures of willowy young beauties, Harunobu’s print output included many images of children.


object details
Category
Object Type
Dimensions
  • Height: 13.7cm
  • Width: 15.2cm
Style
Summary
Suzuki Harunobu was a printmaker and painter of the Edo period (1615–1868) and a seminal figure in the history of Japanese art. His most accomplished prints date to the last five years of his life and utilise new developments in the production of polychrome prints from multiple woodblocks. By carving registration marks (kentô) on the block and using them to align the paper, artists were no longer limited in the number of blocks they could use to produce a single print. Such prints are called nishiki-e (‘brocade pictures’) after the magnificent brocades produced in the Nishijin district of Kyoto.



Despite the wealth of colour choices afforded him by developments in printing from woodblocks, Harunobu here chooses a muted palette. Within a frame in the shape of a Japanese fan, a Chinese child puts the final touches on a snow dog as his friend watches. The hairstyles and clothing of the children in this print identify them as karako, often translated as 'Chinese boys'. This motif originated in the Chinese theme of 'one hundred boys playing'. Although perhaps most often associated with pictures of willowy young beauties, Harunobu’s print output included many images of children.
Collection
Accession Number
E.990-1914

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record createdJanuary 22, 2005
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