Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This image of a coquettish beauty gently biting her lip in amusement conceals a witty hidden narrative: surrounded by spring bamboo shoots miraculously emerging from the snow-covered ground, the young woman is cast as Meng Zong, one of 24 classical Chinese paragons of filial piety, who valiantly sought the plant for his ailing mother in the depths of winter. The phallic shape of the bamboo shoots and the fact that the woman wields a hoe for harvesting them adds yet another twist. This iconoclastic convergence of classical and contemporary, high and low, was a hallmark of floating-world painting.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tōensai Kanshi, Japanese (active c. 1755–72)
Harvesting Bamboo Shoots in Winter
Work Type
painting, hanging scroll
c. mid-1760s
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
painting proper: H. 85.6 × W. 34 cm (33 11/16 × 13 3/8 in.)
mounting overall, including roller ends and cord: H. 174 × W. 51.5 cm (68 1/2 × 20 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Tōensai Kanshi ga
  • seal: Kanshi
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Narazaki Muneshige, ed., Nikuhitsu ukiyoe, vol 4: Shunsho, Zauho Press/Editions Shueisha (Tokyo, Japan, 1982), illus. #59

Tsuji Nobuo, ed., Bosuton Bijutsukan nikuhitsu ukiyoe = Ukiyo-e paintings Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan, 2000)

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 158, cat. 78

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 37, fig. 24

Exhibition History

Exhibition of Masterworks of Ukiyo-e Painting: The Bloom and Fragrant Beauty of Edo Women, Nihonbashi Tokyu Department Store, 02/17/1984 - 02/29/1984

Exhibition of Original Ukiyo-e Paintings, Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 04/29/1995 - 06/25/1995

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/09/2016 - 12/01/2016

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 07/18/2021

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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at