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Peonies And Canary - Poem By Wang Shiming - Katsushika Hokusai - Japanese Woodcut Ukiyo-e Painting - Posters

After the successful publication of his ten-print bird- and-flower (kacho-ga) series in the horizontal format (examples on view nearby), Hokusai released another kacho-ga series with the same publisher, Nishimuraya. The new set consisted of ten vertical compositions (three are on view) bearing a poem mentioning the featured flower. The Chinese-style poem at the upper right of this print is attributed to the Southern Song scholar Wang Shiming (1112–71).

Double-flowered peonies from Yangzhou, the king of flowers in bloom this spring.

The idea of cultivating plants as an elegant pastime was introduced from China as early as the 12th century and caught on among Japan’s aristocracy and military elite. By the Edo period, the hobby was pursued by all classes of society, even in thriving metropolitan areas like Edo. Peonies were especially popular, with blossoms of various colors, sizes, and types.

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