Okumura Masanobu: Innovator and Entrepreneur
Korean Acrobatic Rider Inscribing Calligraphy While Standing in the Stirrups
Woodcut, handcolored, pillar print
71.8 x 16.8 cm.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Gift of the Grabhorn Ukiyo-e Collection, 2005.100.10
Sometime in the early 1740s, Masanobu began publishing under his own imprint woodcuts in a long, narrow format, to be mounted as hanging scrolls or simply attached to the wall-pillars of a house. These hashira-e, or “pillar pictures,” remained popular for the remainder of the century, and such artists as Harunobu and Koryūsai showed great ingenuity in designing them. This print of a Korean equestrian acrobat is a striking example of Masanobu’s style, with its sense of movement and gentle handcoloring. Korean embassies visited Japan throughout the period, and their horsemen impressed the Japanese with their acrobatic skills. This particular print is datable to a diplomatic mission in 1748.
Photo: Kaz Tsuruta. © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.