Sonsai: Two rats playingSonsai: Two rats playing
Move your mouse over image or click to enlarge

Kôitsu (Kôichi) Sonsai (active c. 1820s/1830s)

Two jolly white rats frolicking around in a rice box. Behind them the mallet of the lucky god Daikoku. The symbol of the hammer and the rats are said to bring good fortune and wealth. A surimono (privately printed new year’s greeting card) for a zodiacal year of the rat.

Untitled, with tree poems by the poets Shunshûan Nagame, Kinpôdô (Sonsai’s alias name as a poet) und Shûchôdô.

Signature: Sonsai hitsu

Date: 1828, here likely a Meiji edition, c. 1890

Size: Shikishiban, 20,4 x 18,4 cm (overall sheet size)

Excellent impression and colours, with strong gauffrage and metal pigments (oxydized). Few minor paper thinnings. Verso in bottom corner oblong red seal (unread, collector’s seal?). Overall excellent condition.

Ill. in Helena Markus, Surimono. Stampe augurali nel Giappone del '700 e '800, Firenze 1983, p. 76. For another surimono by this rarely found artist, who also acted as a poet, see Matthi Forrer, Surimono in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Leiden 2013, p. 253, No. 474.
Supposedly this charming and quite rare print is an excellent early Meiji version (Akashi A-copy, see Roger Keyes, The Art of Surimono, London 1985, Vol II, p. 519, No. 172, Zonsai). However, comparable other copies of this print are sometimes dated to the Edo period, for example by Markus.