Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 16861764)
"Stone rubbing" style woodblock print; ink on paper; H. 11 7/16 in. (29.1 cm), W. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (JP1589)
Okumura Masanobu's straightforward treatment of the classical Chinese story of the legendary recluses Kyoyu and Sofu (Xu You and Chao Fu in Chinese) features the figures with an inscription. Feeling as if his ears are dirty upon hearing an invitation from the imperial court to take political power, Kyoyu washes out his ears in a waterfall. Sofu turns his ox away from the cascade, which has been contaminated by Kyoyu's washing. The ishizuri-e (literally, stone-rubbing picture) style imitates the "rubbing" technique, a traditional method for collecting inscriptions and images from stone stele. Masanobu, an artist, innovator, and publisher, was one of the most important figures in the entire course of the ukiyo-e tradition.