University Museums

Title: Falcon on a Pine Branch
Name: Woodcut
Date: c. 1790
Period: Edo
Medium: Color woodcut on paper
Country/Culture: Japanese
Dimensions: Print area: 13 3/4 x 6 1/16 in. (34.9 x 15.4 cm) Framed: 22.25 x 18.25 in.
Inscription: Calligraphy marks down the left bottom side of the print.
Classification: Prints and Printing Plates
Credit Line: Gift of Joanna M. Hansen. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
Object Number: UM82.50
More Information
Depicted in this print is a gyrfalcon, the largest of all falcons. This one is most likely the Siberian gyrfalcon, a bird native to Japan. Its pine branch perch symbolizes longevity in traditional Japanese culture.

The eighteenth-century Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro is known best for more indelicate imagery than seen in this woodcut. Utamaro actually specialized in brothel subjects, celebrating those who chose to spend time on the fringes of society in the pleasure district of Edo, the city now known as Tokyo. Utamaro was one of many Japanese artists who pursued this popular genre, and by the 1790s he had become the most popular printmaker in Japan.

Although this print contains much more conservative imagery, it illustrates Utamaro's mastery of the print. Known for strong fluid lines and delicate patterning, Falcon on a Pine Branch has all the strength and elegance evident in his more familiar images.

Depicted in this print is a gyrfalcon, the largest of all falcons. This one is most likely the Siberian gyrfalcon, a bird native to Japan. Its pine branch perch symbolizes longevity in traditional Japanese culture.