A mysterious 1823 advertisement for illustrated books by renowned artist Katsushika Hokusai refers to an otherwise unknown work called Mister Iitsu’s Chicken-Rib Picture Book. According to the ad, the book was conceived in the same year that the final volume of Hokusai’s famous Manga series was supposed to have been published. Many therefore believe that the Chicken-Rib Picture Book was meant to be a continuation of the series, but a published copy of it has never been found. This eclectic and engaging collection of drawings from the peerless Japanese art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was likely intended for that lost book. It includes the sort of lively, behind-the-scenes sketches of daily life that have made the Manga series so beloved, as well as imaginatively conceived sea creatures, refined flowers, deities, heroes, and a variety of craftspeople and laborers.
Reproduced here in full for the first time as a stand-alone volume, this rare sketchbook of Hokusai drawings makes for delightful fare.
About the Author
Sarah E. Thompson is Curator, Japanese Art, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
“The volume of tasty morsels remained unpublished—until now. The cover displays a partially clothed abalone-diver swooping down on her prey with a knife between her teeth. She seems just the right official greeter for Hokusai’s incisive art.”
- Christopher Benfey for NYR Daily
“[Hokusai’s] ‘tasty morsels’ offer a comprehensive view of Japanese life at the time, from the people to the architecture to religious and cultural customs”
- Claire Voon for Hyperallergic
“The handsome volume includes dozens of lively, lovely images, showcasing Hokusai’s skill at capturing movement, in swirling garments, in water, in wind, in bodies in motion at work, spinning pots on a wheel, making paper, washing a horse, trekking up a hill.”
- Boston Sunday Globe