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People on the shore of Shinagawa Bay looking at a great catch

Major collection: Hart Nautical
Named collection: Allan Forbes Collection
Object type: woodcut
Maker: Utagawa, Kuniyoshi; Marusei
Place made: Japan
Date made: 1847-1852
Materials: ink; paper; board; matboard
Measurements: 13 1/2 in x 28 1/2 in; 20 1/2 in x 35 in; 17 1/2 in x 33 1/2 in
Nomenclature: whaling scenes
Classification: whales

Big Catch. Prosperity of the Whale. Triptych woodblock print by Kuniyoshi, circa 1847-52. This is the artist's paean to a humpback whale that came into Shinagawa Bay in 1798, some fifty years earlier. The Shinagawa Whale, also known as the Kansei Whale because according to the Japanese calendar it arrived in the tenth year of Kansei, was universally interpreted as a good luck omen, and the Japanese proverb "One whale makes seven shores (seven villages) prosperous" is often quoted in connection with it. The vantage point is carefully selected to include in the background a view of Fuji-san (Mount Fuji), Japan's most portentous and enduring good luck symbol; and cranes fly overhead, another unequivocal symbol of good fortune.