Artist: Kunichika Toyohara (1835-1900)
Title: Fireworks from summer pleasure boat in Ryogoku
Publisher: Takekawa Seikichi
Date: late 19th century
Dimensions: (R) 25.0 x 37.3 (C) 25.2 x 37.3 (L) 25.1 x 37.2 cm
Kunichika Toyohara represents one of the last artists at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912) who continued to make ukiyo-e prints with the full respect to the old-school, traditional ways. He was of a central importance for the production of actors’ portraits (yakusha-e) and pictures of theatre performances (shibai-e) at that time.
His private life was one of a true so-called Edokko (‘child of Edo’) and he had a character of an eccentric, bohemian and a chevalier. A story has it that he had more than 40 different partners and lived under over than 117 addresses. His last residence was on the bank of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter, which may have inspired this print. Summer in Japan is the season for fireworks (hanabi) and many people gather on river shores or in boats to watch the colorful displays in the sky.