Goldfish Vendor, 1800s

Not on Viewexpand_more

In addition to his commercial woodblock designs for mass consumption, Hokusai made a large number of surimono, or deluxe prints for private clients. This print was once part of an announcement, program, or poetry compilation, but the accompanying information that might have identified the purpose has been trimmed away. The scene shows a goldfish vendor by her tank under the trees. The Japanese first imported goldfish from China in the 16th century, fascinated by their novelty and shimmering colors. By the early 19th century, goldfish had become affordable pets for ordinary citizens. Every summer, they were a popular commodity because, psychologically at least, viewing fish swimming in delicate glass bowls tempered the heat. In this print, a little boy excitedly holds up a glass container, perhaps pleading with his mother to buy a goldfish.

Goldfish Vendor
Artist Life
1760 - 1849
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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