Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection at Japan Society Gallery, March 13 – June 7, 2015

“Since arriving in Japan aboard Chinese ships transporting sacred Buddhist scriptures in the mid-sixth century, cats have proceeded to purr and paw their way into the heart of Japanese life, folklore, and art. Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection illustrates the depth of this mutual attraction by mining the wealth of bravura depictions of cats to be found in ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1615-1867).” — Japan Society

01_Hiroshige_Asakusa Rice Fields

Cats and People: Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

04_Kunisada II_Kashiwagi

Cats and People: Utagawa Kunisada II (1823–1880), Kashiwagi from the series The False Murasaki’s Rustic Genji, 1848–54. Color woodblock print; 22 3/8 x 36 7/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

05_Kunisada II_No. 36, Kashiwagi

Cats and People: Utagawa Kunisada II (1823–1880), No. 36, Kashiwagi from the series Lady Murasaki’s Genji Cards, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

15_Yoshitoshi_Looking Tiresome

Cats and People: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), Looking Tiresome: The Appearance of a Virgin of the Kansei Era from the series Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners, 1888. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

23_Kunisada_Cat and Beauty

Cats and People: Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864), Cat and Beauty from the series Beauties in New Styles Dyed to Order, 1818–30. Color woodblock print; 36 7/8 x 22 3/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

25_Kuniyoshi_Chrysanthemums

Cats and People: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Chrysanthemums from the series Eight Selected Flowers from the Garden, 1844–48. Color woodblock print, 16 x 22 ½ inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

35_Isoda_Parody of the Letter-reading scene

Cats and People: Isoda Koryūsai (1735–1790), Parody of the Letter-reading Scene in Act VII of Chūshingura, 1772-81. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy of Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

38_Kunimaro_A Brief History of the Buddha Dainichi Disguised as Otake

Cats and People: Utagawa Kunimaro (active ca. 1850-75), A Brief History of the Buddha Dainichi Disguised as Otake, 1849. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

40_Kunisada_The Actor Onoe Kikugoro III as Kayanoya Kanpei

Cats and People: Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864), The Actor Onoe Kikugorō III as Kayanoya Kanpei, 1833. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

45_Hiroshige_Cat Crossing to Eat

Cats as People: Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Cat Crossing to Eat, 1830–44. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

46_Kuniyoshi_Parody of Umeage

Cats as People: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Parody of Umegae Striking the Bell of Limitless [Hell] from the series Fashionable Cat Games, 1848–54. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

47_Yoshiiku_The Story of Otomi and Yosaburō

Cats as People: Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833–1904), The Story of Otomi and Yosaburō, 1860. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

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Cats versus People: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), From the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road: Scene at Okazaki: Onoe Kikugorō III as the Neko-ishi no Kai, the Spirit of the Cat Stone, Mimasu Gennosuke I as Shirasuga Jūemon, and Ichimura Uzaemon XII as Inabanosuke, 1835. Color woodblock print; 22 3/8 x 36 7/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

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Cats versus People: Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III; 1786–1865), Beloved Concubine Kochō, Her Maid Okoma, and Narushima Tairyō, 1853. Color woodblock print; 22 3/8 x 36 7/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Kawanabe_A True Picture of the Fierce Live Tiger

Cats Transformed: Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889), A True Picture of the Fierce Live Tiger Never Seen from the Past to the Present, 1860. Color woodblock print; 14 x 9 ¾ inches. Courtesy Ronin Gallery, New York.

Takahashi_Nude Playing with a Cat

Cats Transformed: Takahashi Hiroaki (Shōtei) (1871–1945), Nude Playing with a Cat, ca. 1927–30. Color woodblock print; 23 ¾ x 17 ¾ inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York and Tokyo.

Kokei_Dragon and Tiger

Cats Transformed: Yoshimura Kōkei (1770–1836), Dragon and Tiger, 1895. Hanging scroll, ink, color, and gold on silk; 90 x 43 1/2 inches. Courtesy Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd., New York.

Takahashi_Cat Prowling Around a Staked Tomato Plant

Cats Transformed: Takahashi Hiroaki (Shōtei) (1871–1945), Cat Prowling Around a Staked Tomato Plant, 1931. Color woodblock print; 29 ½ x 23 ¼ inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York and Tokyo.

58_Yoshitoshi_The Enlightenment of Daruma

Cats and Play: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), The Enlightenment of Daruma from an untitled series known as Sketches by Yoshitoshi, 1882. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

63_Yoshifuji_Popular Hotspring Spa [of Cats]

Cats and Play: Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828–1887), Popular Hotspring Spa [of Cats], 1880. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

65_Yoshifuji_Newly Published Applications for Cats

Cats and Play: Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828 – 1887), Newly Published Applications for Cats, ca. 1868–1912. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy of Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Kuniyoshi_Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido

Cats and Play: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.

Images courtesy The Japan Society