The Glory of the Imperial Flowers (Hana no miyako goyo no sakae)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Glory of the Imperial Flowers

(Hana no miyako goyo no sakae)

by Nagashima Shungyō, 1880

A List of the House of Representatives

IHL Cat. #1943

About This Print

This scene of courtly ladies and imperial regalia first appears as if it’s out of the Heian era (794-1185), when court ladies painted eyebrows high up on their foreheads after shaving their real eyebrows.  But, these lady’s eyebrows are not shaved, suggesting an elaborate dress-up, and who is the man sitting high-up in the left panel?  Could it be Emperor Meiji?

Princess Sumiko (perhaps)
Emperor Meiji (perhaps)

Donald Keene tell us that in June of 1880 the emperor embarked on a journey to understand the local conditions of his subjects.  Included in his journey was a stop in Kyoto in July, when this print was issued.  While in Kyoto he visited his aunt, Princess Sumiko, who had arranged a program of plays for his entertainment.  “The performance was attended also by members of the nobility still living in the old capital, a momentary revival of their former glory.”1

While the artist would certainly not have been at the performance details of the emperor’s journey were widely reported and he would have constructed this scene with artistic license.

1 Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 335-337.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description The Glory of the Imperial Flowers
 花の都御代乃榮 Hana no miyako goyo no sakae
 Artist Nagashima Shungyō (active 1882-1905)
永嶌孟斎 Nagashima Mōsai
 Seal unread seal beneath signature as shown above
 Publication Date
July 1880 (Meiji 13)
 Publisheryellow cartouche: 
出版人 児玉又七 (publisher Kodama Matashichi. Rightmost column provides publisher's address.) [Marks: pub. ref. 260; seal 26-135]

green cartouche: 画工 長烏戻五郎 (artist Nagashima Tatsugorō) 神田區須田町四番地 (address Kanda-ku Sudachō yon-banchi)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 condition good - almost full-size separate sheets; unbacked; light wrinkling, minor offsetting and toning
 Genre ukiyo-e 
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 1/2 x 9 7/8 in. (36.8 x 25.1 cm) each sheet
 H x W Image 14 3/16 x 9 1/2 in. (36 x 24.1 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print
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