Tokyo’s Sumida Ward to purchase early 19th century Hokusai work

Kyodo

The office of Tokyo’s Sumida Ward said Wednesday it plans to purchase a painting depicting Tokyo in the 19th century by famed ukiyo-e woodblock print artist Katsushika Hokusai.

The office plans to purchase the painting titled “Sumidagawa Ryogan Keshiki Zukan” (“Landscape Scroll on Both Sides of the Sumida River”) with ¥149 million (around $1.24 million) in donated funds, and put it on public display at the Sumida Hokusai Museum scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

The work, which is 28.5 cm high and 633.5 cm wide, is believed to have been painted in 1805, when Hokusai was around 46 years old, at the request of Utei Emba, a writer in the late Edo Period through 1868.

The scroll bearing Hokusai’s stamp, depicts the landscape along the Sumida River and the nearby Yoshiwara red-light district.

“This is a very rare piece by Hokusai, as the year of production and the person who ordered it are known,” said Seiji Nagata, a leading Hokusai expert and art specialist in the ward office.

“Its unique method of painting landscape with shades is different from other Hokusai works. It is very interesting,” he said, adding that the scroll and colors are in excellent condition.

The painting is known to have been displayed in an exhibition in Tokyo’s Ueno area in 1892. It went missing after being auctioned in France in 1902 and surfaced at an auction in London in 2008.