Katsushika Hokusai
Snow on New Year's Morning
1799, January

Signed: Sōri aratame Hokusai ga; Small surimono, koban, 13.6 x 18.5 cm; nishiki-e with karazuri and metallic pigments

A servant is using a twig broom to sweep snow from a garden path that leads to a wash basin. To the left is a poem by Mutsuki Wakamochi (a fantasy name; wakamochi means “New Year’s dumplings”) referring to the frozen water in the basin and the red plum blossoms under the snow. This elegantly composed print is the first one to appear under the name Hokusai, and no longer under the name Tawaraya Sōri; it is signed: “Sōri aratame (changed to) Hokusai”.

Tadamasa Hayashi; Adolphe Stoclet, Brussels (Sotheby’s, London, June 1966)
Riese Collection #115

Quite apart from the beauty of its printing and the elegance of its design, this print is valuable for securely dating the name change from Tawaraya Sōri to Hokusai with the date in cyclical signs at the left of 1/1799. The poem, a kyōka by Mutsuki Wakamochi, mentions snow and flowers, but is in an unusually difficult script and has not been transcribed or translated.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 100b.