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  • 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 The Tenryu River near Mitsuke station
    The Tenryu River near Mitsuke station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the first Tokaido series, Hoeido Tokaido edition. 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. This was near station number twenty-eight.

  • 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 Deep porcelain bowl
    Deep porcelain bowl

    This blue and white decorated porcelain bowl is an example of the popular bird and flower decorative motif of the early Qing Dynasty. Made at the Imperial porcelain factories at Jingtezhen in Jiangxi Provence, this bowl is inscribed with the reign mark of the Emperor Kangxi. These porcelain factories flourished during the Ming Dynasty but their output declined in quantity and quality immediately after the Manchu invasion. Under Kangxi’s patronage porcelain manufacture once again flourished and for the next 130 years some of the most exquisite porcelains were created to the delight of three successive Emperors. 8 1/2 inches in diameter.

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

    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 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 Lacquer tray - top view
    Lacquer tray - top view

    This simple rectangular tray is lacquered over a finely joined wooden core in numerous layers of colored lacquer to simulate pudding stone. Japanese lacquer artists excelled at simulating different materials in their craft, including metals, various stone finishes, wood grain and shells. 11 x 8.25 inches; height 1/2 inch.

  • Thumbnail for Landscape
    Landscape by Zhang Daqian, 1899-1983

    Painted as a "gift painting" for Charles Chu in New Haven, Connecticut.

  • Thumbnail for Tang Yin portrait, close-up of figure
    Tang Yin portrait, close-up of figure 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. His artistic reputation is reflected in many writings, including novels and dramas in later eras and his love of women is depicted in the performing arts and popular culture. Tang Yin was known as a commercial painter who sold his works and took commissions. Many of the extant works that bear his signature are forgeries. The artist of this painting displays a unique manner in his brushwork, with angular and edgy outlines that reflect the influence of Zhou Chen (still alive in the 1530s), another famous painter of Tang Yin’s era. Tang Yin originally studied painting with Zhou Chen, however Zhou Chen occasionally ghost-painted for Tang Yin due to the huge demand for Tang’s paintings. Another possibility is that the inscription of this painting was done by Tang Yin and the figure was done by Zhou Chen.

  • 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 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 Bronze ritual vessel fanggu
    Bronze ritual vessel fanggu

    This solidly cast archaistic model of an ancient classical ritual vessel was cast for use as decoration in an upper class household or scholarly pavilion. The fashion of having visual manifestations of ancient objects was an important one in Manchu court circles where great effort was made to demonstrate an affinity to classical Han culture as the foreign Qing rulers were seriously consolidating their rule over China – a process that started with the overthrow of the ethnically Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1644. 15.25 inches high x 7.5 wide ; base 4.5 inches.

  • 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 Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view
    Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view by Jin Dui

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 34.2 cm x 27.3 cm; white chrysanthemums, symbol of 9th month, autumn and fruit blossoms; calligraphy and one seal by artist.

  • Thumbnail for Narcissus and Fungus, full view
    Narcissus and Fungus, full view by Wu Shouxian

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting; black ink and red on paper; image area 31 cm x 132.5 cm; brocade frame, flush roller with brocade ends; red fungus (mushrooms) regarded as the plant of long life or immortality and symbol of the good; calligraphy, three seals.

  • 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 Piece-Mold Bronze Casting Diagram
    Piece-Mold Bronze Casting Diagram

    Diagram showing the various components necessary for casting in the piece-mold process utilized in the Shang era [1500-1050 BCE].

  • Thumbnail for Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock
    Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock by Zhang, Gun

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a bronze-colored brocade silk mounting. The image is 33 cm x 120 cm and has dry, lively brush strokes illustrating an autumn scene of flowering chrysanthemum emerging from a deeply worn rock with two birds ""fighting' while a third bird perches above.

  • Thumbnail for Lake Biwa by Starry Night, front view
    Lake Biwa by Starry Night, front view by Shoda Koho

    One of two prints from the Hasegawa series, and in fact represent one of the aspects unique to the woodblock print process. Using exactly the same blocks, but inking them with different sets of colors, the printers were able to produce visions of the same scene at different times of day. Both prints feature a boat setting off with passenger and boatman (or woman, given the hair length) in the foreground, the Ukimido at Katata, on Lake Biwa, in the background, and a pine branch silhouetted above. This print uses deep blues for much of the print, giving an impression of midnight, and with a few stars reserved in the sky.

  • Thumbnail for Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock
    Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock by Zhang, Gun

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a bronze-colored brocade silk mounting. The image is 33 cm x 120 cm and has dry, lively brush strokes illustrating an autumn scene of flowering chrysanthemum emerging from a deeply worn rock.

  • Thumbnail for Port in Early Dawn, front view
    Port in Early Dawn, front view by Kawanishi Hide

    Another representation of Kawanishi’s home town, with a glowing buoy setting off the distant lighthouse and dark mountain, this print is a good example of the style.

  • Thumbnail for Portrait, full view
    Portrait, full 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 artiistic 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 Ainu, front view
    Ainu, front view by Kawanishi Hide

    This modernist portrait of a representative of Japan’s northern aborigine minority, dressed for a dance performance, is a fine example of figurative printmaking in the sosaku hanga mode.

  • Thumbnail for Pipa Song
    Pipa Song by Jiang Yun

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 38.8 cm x 24.3 cm; lady and lute on covered barge, only mast and lanterns of another barge are visible, with willow, pine, and blossoming trees. Jiang Yun’s painting was a token of friendship, responding to a friend’s request. The subject is based on the famous Tang era poem, Lyrics of the Pipa (Lute) by Bai Juyi (772-846 C.E.).