Toyokuni – painted while drunk

In the current update is a painting signed “Toyokuni painted while being drunk.” This is not an isolated example: Certain artists – such as Kyosai – often signed works in this way and indeed may have benefited from a degree of inebriation to prompt inspiration. Artists often collaborated on works, especially of the Shijo school, and one can imagine the conviviality of such a cohors amicorum with food and wine being passed around. It’s difficult to think of a western comparison to this. Hand scrolls, because of their horizontal length and short height, were very suitable for joint efforts of like-minded artists or literati.




The example in this update is spontaneous – even slapdash – due to the artist’s intoxication, but this adds a charm and veracity to the subject. It also makes authentication easier, certainly of Ukiyoe subjects, as forgers tended to concentrate on copying the detailed, more sober and meticulous subjects, as these were the most highly valued.


Japanese paintings are an undervalued area of collecting. It’s possible, as here, to buy an important Hiroshige painting for the price many of his prints fetch. And one is purchasing an unique item.