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Kyōsai hyakuzu, Flower on a Withered Tree, Strolling Like a Dog on the Riverbank

Kyōsai hyakuzu, Watōnai, Master of Papier Mache

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Flower on a Withered Tree

Strolling Like a Dog on the River

from the series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

by Kawanabe Kyōsai, c. 1863-1866

Study of Gaslight and Silhouetted Figures

IHL Cat. #2080

About this Print and the Series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

The Print
Source: Cent Proverbes Japonais, Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuké, Paris - Ernest Leroux, Ed., 1885 

The top portion of the print shows a doctor with his medicine box, along with the patient's family (the patient lying behind the screen in the upper left) looking in amazement at flowers blooming on a dead tree, an expression used when a sick person, near death, suddenly regains his health.

The bottom portion of the print depicts two hapless parents with their children coming across two wandering dogs, illustration the Japanese expression "that when one goes for a walk without a goal, not knowing what to do, but with the firm intention of not spending a penny; no more than a dog walking on the banks of a river has a fixed goal or money to waste."

The Series
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886.  The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album. 

One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.

This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.

*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made.  The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope.  Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.
Variant Printings
The popularity of these small prints led to numerous printings over the years and several color variants.

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description
 Flower on a Withered Tree, Strolling Like a Dog on the Riverbank
 かれ木ノ花 犬の川ばた
 Kareki no hana, Inu no kawabata
 Artist Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Series Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai)
Seiseijin Kyōsai 惺惺人 狂斎

 Seal of the Artist none
 Publication Date unknown (originally c. 1863-1866)
Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 - originally issued by Wakasaya Yoichi 若狭屋与市 and then reprinted in book form by Ōkura Magobei (Yorozuya Magobei).
 Impression fair
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - album backing removed; soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
 Format koban [vertical yotsugiri (quarter ōban)]
 H x W Paper 
 7 1/16 x 4 7/8 in. (17.9 x 12.4 cm)
 H x W Image 6 3/4 x 4 7/16 in. (17.1 x 11.3 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.37016; Ukiyoe Caricatures, University of Vienna 11032-16
 Reference Literature
last revision:
4/12/2021 (created)