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Browsing 1,374 results for facet Topic with value of Arts.
  • Thumbnail for Ceremonial Axe
    Ceremonial Axe

    Bronze axe with man and beast motif. May have been a token of rank and an instrument in conducting human sacrifices. "The innocent face, flanked by a pair of animals, usually identified as tigers, seems blissfully unaware of any unhappy outcome, and the tigers, most ferocious of beasts, are surprisingly benign." [as quoted from Robert Thorpe]

  • Thumbnail for Bronze Hand Axe
    Bronze Hand Axe

    Hand axe of the ko type featuring a small hare, stamped by heat, on the haft. On the blade, a cicada larva is encrusted with a globe of malachite.

  • Thumbnail for Embarrassed woman with an outstanding debt
    Embarrassed woman with an outstanding debt by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

    From the Myodensu Juroku Rikan (Sixteen Wonderful Considerations of Profit) series. The son of a silk dyer, Utagawa Kuniyoshi was apprenticed to the printmaker Utagawa Toyokuni I. whose other pupils included Toyoshige and Kunisada. Unlike his master, who specialized in actor portraits, Kuniyoshi excelled in depicting historical scenes and events along with celebrated warriors. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist experimented widely, producing prints of everything from landscapes to erotica. Kuniyoshi’s first published work was a set of book illustrations released in 1814, although his name remained obscure for several years until his publication of a print series depicting 75 heroes from Japanese lore and legend. When prints of actors and beautiful women (bijin-ga) were banned by the Japanese government in 1842, the Japanese middle class became enthusiastic supporters of Kuniyoshi’s seemingly inoffensive historical prints. In 1843, the artist released a satirical triptych print criticizing the Shogun, launching an official investigation that resulted in the destruction of Kuniyoshi’s woodblocks and unsold prints, as well as an official censure. The print, however, remained popular with the middle class. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze censor  - back view
    Bronze censor - back view

    Cast in the form of the mythical three-legged toad, emblematic of the unattainable and great wealth, the upper portion of its body forms the cover and the three spread legs, the base. Its mouth is pierced to allow the incense to drift upwards. This beast has both Taoist and Buddhist implications, as do many of legendary beasts and creatures in traditional Chinese iconography. 8 inches long, 5 inches high.

  • Thumbnail for Shrimp
    Shrimp by Qi Baishi, 1863-1957

    This artist has been called the "Picasso of China." Known for his simple compositions, economy of brush strokes, and bold contrasting colors.

  • Thumbnail for Kana-dehon Chushingura Act III: Scene at the Palace in Kamakura
    Kana-dehon Chushingura Act III: Scene at the Palace in Kamakura by Keisei Eisen

    From the Kanadehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) series. Keisei Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. Kana-dehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) was a popular and frequently performed Kabuki play in the late 18th and early 19th century in Edo. Based on actual historical events from 1701 – 1703, the play tells of forty-seven ronin (samurai without a lord) who seek revenge for the unjust death of their leader Enya-Hangan. Enya-hangan draws his sword in reaction to the insults of Moronao, a capital offence resulting in a death sentence.

  • Thumbnail for Kana-dehon Chushingura Act IV: Oboshi Yuranosuke display's Hangan's sword
    Kana-dehon Chushingura Act IV: Oboshi Yuranosuke display's Hangan's sword by Eisen Keisai

    From the Kanadehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) series. Keisei Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. Kana-dehon Chushingura (Model of the Kana Syllabury: the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers) was a popular and frequently performed Kabuki play in the late 18th and early 19th century in Edo. Based on actual historical events from 1701 – 1703, the play tells of forty-seven ronin (samurai without a lord) who seek revenge for the unjust death of their leader Enya-Hangan. Act IV: Enya-hangan commits hara-kiri, while his loyal retainer Yuranosuke vows revenge on Moronao

  • Thumbnail for Mirrors of actors in fanciful transformations
    Mirrors of actors in fanciful transformations by Utagawa Toyokuni I

    From theYakusha Mitate Kagami (Mirrors of Actors in Fanciful Transformations) series. A student of Toyoharu, Toyokuni became the head of the Utagawa school after his master’s death. At eighteen the artist published his first works, a series of illustrations of Japanese folk tales and thereafter he devoted much of his early career to the creation of bijin-ga. He achieved the greatest renown, however, for actor prints in which he was one of the first to show the full bodies and the costumes of his subjects. Like his contemporary Kitagawa Utamaro, Toyokuni was punished for the content of some of his prints, at one point being sentenced to fifty days in hand-shackles for his series Ehon Taiheki (The Taihei Romance Illustrated). By the 1820s Toyokuni’s name had become synonymous with fine prints of actors and their roles. Often actors would be depicted in roles which they had never performed as artists sought to create an imaginative scenario. This mitate was a playful connection which also allowed artists to show numerous actors in a single image. This game of playful doubling and imagination was also frequently employed in a variety of bijin-ga.

  • Thumbnail for Book illustration: Hanasobu (Iris Insata)
    Book illustration: Hanasobu (Iris Insata) by Kuwagata Keisai

    Practiced both painting and printmaking, recognized for his “realistic†depictions of Edo environs and culture. Some of the earliest uses of woodblock printing in Japan were for the recording of objects and events, images of which were bound together into record books and encyclopedias. With a renewed interest in science brought about by increased exposure to the west many artists used the skills learned in depicting ceremonial and symbolic flora and fauna to create catalogues and books of native flora and fauna. These images bear only the artist’s signature and do not include publishers’ and cravers’ marks because the prints were not intended to be sold on the print market but rather bound into a book.

  • Thumbnail for Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq
    Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq by Eisen Keisai

    Keisai Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. As a result of the success of Hiroshige’s “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, publishers commissioned many artists to do series in similar veins. Eisen both collaborated with Hiroshige and executed his own series of images from the Kisokaido (Great Western Highway).

  • Thumbnail for Snow at Yamanaka Village, near Fujiwaka
    Snow at Yamanaka Village, near Fujiwaka by Utagawa Hiroshige

    One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe. Often palaces decorated with traditional Kano painting would have rooms devoted to each season of the year. Though appealing to a far less sophisticated audience, Hiroshige continued an interest in the seasons frequently depicting particular stations along the Tokaido in a variety of climactic conditions. Fujikawa was station number thirty-seven. Though innovative in both his use of a more western perspective and in many of his subject matters, Hiroshige, nevertheless, evinced a careful understanding of Japanese landscape traditions.

  • Thumbnail for The General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse
    The General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

    The son of a silk dyer, Utagawa Kuniyoshi was apprenticed to the printmaker Utagawa Toyokuni I. whose other pupils included Toyoshige and Kunisada. Unlike his master, who specialized in actor portraits, Kuniyoshi excelled in depicting historical scenes and events along with celebrated warriors. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist experimented widely, producing prints of everything from landscapes to erotica. Kuniyoshi’s first published work was a set of book illustrations released in 1814, although his name remained obscure for several years until his publication of a print series depicting 75 heroes from Japanese lore and legend. When prints of actors and beautiful women (bijin-ga) were banned by the Japanese government in 1842, the Japanese middle class became enthusiastic supporters of Kuniyoshi’s seemingly inoffensive historical prints. In 1843, the artist released a satirical triptych print criticizing the Shogun, launching an official investigation that resulted in the destruction of Kuniyoshi’s woodblocks and unsold prints, as well as an official censure. The print, however, remained popular with the middle class.

  • Thumbnail for Three unserved Tanzaku prints (poem cards)
    Three unserved Tanzaku prints (poem cards) by Utagawa Hiroshige

    Right: Girl Playing with a Battledore in the New Year Center: A Court Lady on an Outing for Picking herbs in the New Year Left: Paper Hina Dolls and a Peach Branch One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Most famous for his series of views along the Tokaido and of Edo and its surrounds, Hiroshige was also a prolific artist with a variety of subject matters. This sheet of three poem cards would have been cut into three separate prints.

  • Thumbnail for Shallow porcelain saucer dish
    Shallow porcelain saucer dish

    This doucai enameled dish is decorated with maidens in a terrace garden scene within a border of pine, prunus and bamboo, the “three friends of winterâ€. These plants are emblematic of longevity, as each hearty growth survives the cold, harsh winter months. The dish is inscribed on the base with an apocryphal Ming Dynasty Zhenghua (1465-1487) reign mark, but the decoration, enamel technique and subject matter are clearly 18th century. Width 8 inches; height 1 5/8 inches.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze rice measure - top view
    Bronze rice measure - top view

    This rectangular tapering vessel is an example of the everyday, utilitarian objects that were fashioned in mold cast bronze in the 18th century. The decoration, which incorporates neatly finished human figures in genre scenes along with typical decorative border embellishments, no doubt was fashioned for use in an important household, rather than for use in a less grand setting. 3 3/4in. high, 5 1/2in wide.

  • Thumbnail for Mother and children
    Mother and children by Qiu Chu (Tuling Neishi), Miss Qiu, mid 16th century

    Artist was the elder daughter of famous professional painter Chiu Ying (Qiu Ying) who taught her how to paint. She often painted women and children of aristicratic families.

  • Thumbnail for The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren
    The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren by Utagawa Hiroshige

    One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Jakuren was a poet and a Buddhist monk was instrumental in compiling the Shinkokinshu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Waka), around 1205 – 1206, which included thirty-five of his own works. The poem card at the top of this image depicts an image of the poet and his poem which was number eighty-seven in the well-known Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poems by 100 Artists), a collection of tanka (five line poems of 31 syllables, arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7, 7).

  • Thumbnail for The Fishing Boat, front close-up
    The Fishing Boat, front close-up by Kawanishi Hide

    The Fishing Boat is a landscape foregrounding the nets and frames for harvesting seaweed, as well as fishing boats, the setting is probably in or near his lifelong home of Kobe.

  • Thumbnail for Tang Yin portrait, character inscription
    Tang Yin portrait, character inscription by Signed 'Tang Yin'

    Chinese vertical scroll painting, likely a forgery; colors on silk, brocade frame mounted on paper, flush roller with brocade ends; image area 20.4 cm x 55.8 cm; subject Chang Hsien the archer, patron of child-bearing; birth of male child announced by hanging bow at door or gate, calligraphy, five seals. The subject matter does not match the artist’s inscription. Tang Yin is very well known for his versatility, including calligraphy, figures, and landscapes. He was also known for his literary talents and free-spirited lifestyle.

  • Thumbnail for Portrait, upper view
    Portrait, upper view by Unknown

    19th century portrait depicting a subject seated in a garden by a stream, chrysanthemum in a vase and a pine tree. The chrysanthemum in the vase symbolizes autumn while the pine tree represents longevity. The image area is 67cm x 130.5 cm and was made using Chinese ink and colors on paper in a silk mounting. The subject and artistic style are reminiscent of the famous artist, Ren Xiong (1820-1864). Ren Xiong and his family members were successful commercial painters in Shanghai and nearby regions and skilled in many subjects, including portraiture.

  • Thumbnail for Shallow porcelain saucer dish - detail of side
    Shallow porcelain saucer dish - detail of side

    This doucai enameled dish is decorated with maidens in a terrace garden scene within a border of pine, prunus and bamboo, the “three friends of winterâ€. These plants are emblematic of longevity, as each hearty growth survives the cold, harsh winter months. The dish is inscribed on the base with an apocryphal Ming Dynasty Zhenghua (1465-1487) reign mark, but the decoration, enamel technique and subject matter are clearly 18th century.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze censor
    Bronze censor

    Cast in the form of the mythical three-legged toad, emblematic of the unattainable and great wealth, the upper portion of its body forms the cover and the three spread legs, the base. Its mouth is pierced to allow the incense to drift upwards. This beast has both Taoist and Buddhist implications, as do many of legendary beasts and creatures in traditional Chinese iconography. 8 inches long, 5 inches high.

  • Thumbnail for Large porcelain dish
    Large porcelain dish

    The decoration on this blue and white charger was inspired by Islamic ceramics of the 16th and 17th centuries and influenced the decorative patterns used on 18th century Dutch Delft wares. 14 7/8 inches wide; 2.25 inches high.

  • Thumbnail for Orchids and Rocks, characters
    Orchids and Rocks, characters by Wu Shouxian

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting; black ink and tan on paper; image area 31 cm x 132.8 cm; brocade frame, flush roller with brocade ends; orchids adorn rock face; calligraphy, three seals.

  • Thumbnail for Jue or Libation Cup
    Jue or Libation Cup

    Late Shang period to early Western Zhou is often referred to as the 'Period of Brilliance' that marks the high point of Chinese Bronze Age, due to a relatively stability created by central political power. It was the era where the Jue form of ritual wine-drinking vessels was most encountered. The strong sense of spirituality and the feeling of peace of the time are well expressed in this remarkable Jue. Jue is one of the ritual wine-drinking bronze vessels for the elite class, exclusively in sacrifices and rituals. It was used to warm wine for libation. The stiff and compact body carries a sense of refrainment with a flat bottom, supported by three blade-shaped legs. The raised tail and restrained spout transform the Jue to a lively upright bird ready to soar upwards. The short rectangular posts are flat on the outer face and rounded on the inner face; they are uneven because one had been broken and insecurely mended with some white substance. The fractured joints between the body and the post caps indicate that they were casted separately. They stand on opposite sides of the rim, holding conical finials bearing a whirligig pattern carved in sunken incised lines; less visible on one post, due to heavy corrosion. The limited decoration of the vessel focuses on the upper section of the body with a narrow and single register, ornamented with a tiger motif rising from the background of dense spirals lei-wen (or 'thunder pattern'). It is bordered with a small repetitive circle motif and bisected by a flat handle, accentuated by a head of an archaic dragon. As part of the late Shang bronze ornaments, this combination of abstract animal figurative, geometrical form, and the lei-wen, almost always represents the conjuration of a cosmological myth. There are visible flaws on the ornament band and behind the handle. The seams are more visible on the outer faces, especially at the band of decoration. The Jue projects a sense of fierceness and reverent awe, due to the effects of the restrained decoration and the simplicity of the design. Prehistoric bronzes, as in the case of this vessel, were mostly found from large hoards or graves, evidently indicated on the inner and outer surfaces covered with emerald-green patina and traces of earthy incrustation. Its exceptional exquisiteness lies in the sense of austerity in shape and design, the aesthetic sense of technical gaucherie and the rough encrustation of beautiful emerald-green patina on the surface formed during centuries of burial.