About this artwork
This print illustrates the legend of a woman murdered by her husband because she accidentally broke plates. Her corpse and the pieces of the dishes were thrown into a well, but her ghost returned every night to haunt him in the eerie form seen here.
The Art Institute’s collection boasts one of the most well-preserved and appreciated editions of Katsushika Hok usa i’s One Hundred Ghost Tales series (1831–32). The artist apparently planned to produce a full hundred images, but the series was not completed and only five prints are known. The title refers to a game in which people would gather at night to tell scary stories, putting out a candle after each tale until the room was completely dark. These small-format works feature a bright-blue color made possible by Berlin blue pigment (often called “Prussian blue”), which had become affordable shortly before their production. Although this hue may seem cheery to us, Hokusai’s original audience would have associated it with death and the occult.
- Katsushika Hokusai
- The Mansion of the Plates (Sara yashiki), from the series "One Hundred Ghost Tales (Hyaku monogatari)"
- Japan (Artist's nationality:)
- Color woodblock print; chuban
- 25.5 × 18.6 cm (10 1/16 × 7 3/8 in.)
- Clarence Buckingham Collection