In recent years, Carleton has started acquiring Japanese prints from the Meiji period of the late 19th century and very early 20th century. Our focus is on images of women, using art to help visualize gender roles and also to track the absorption of Western influences into Japanese culture.
This triptych by Toyohara Chikanobu (1837–1912) shows the Meiji empress on the right, enjoying a kind of mock battle staged by her court ladies, who are using cherry blossoms instead of words. During cherry blossom time, many inhibitions and social conventions were thrown aside and big parties were held. This print is an homage to the Meiji empress, so it’s a propaganda image. It’s also a fabulous composition in its own right: all the bright colors and patterns organized through the three panels of the triptych made this an attractive purchase.