setsugekka 雪月花
KEY WORD :  art history / paintings
Painting subjects of winter snow, the autumn moon, and spring cherry blossoms, often presented in a triptych format. The subjects are thought to originate from a verse by the Chinese poet Bo Chui (772-846; Jp: Haku Kyoi 白居易 or *Haku Rakuten 白楽天), which contains the line, "Setsugekka no toki mottomo kimi wo omou 雪月花の時最も君を憶ふ." (When I see the snow, moon, or flower, I always think of you.) The theme was also worked into Japanese waka 和歌 poetry. The earliest known use in Japanese literature occurs in MAKURA NO SOUSHI 枕草子 (The Pillowbook; ca.1000) by Sei Shounagon 清少納言. Thus, the subject not only represents seasonal changes, but holds various literary allusions. In painting, the theme was often combined with the views of famous places *meisho-e 名所絵. For example, the winter snow might appear atop a depiction of Mt. Fuji 富士 (see *fugaku-zu 富嶽図), the moon in a scene of autumn foliage along the banks of *Tatsutagawa 竜田川, and the cherry blossoms in a view of Mt. *Yoshino 吉野. Setsugekka was a popular *yamato-e やまと絵 subject, and it was also favored by *Rinpa 琳派 artists. In *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 the theme was often used as a parody *mitate-e 見立絵 in pictures of beauties *bijinga 美人画, or incorporated into landscape scenes *fuukeiga 風景画.


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