Utamaro: A Chorus of Birds. Introduction by Julia Meech-Pekarik, translations by James T. Kenney. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/A Studio Book, The Viking Press. (Pages not numbered.) $17.95.

In 1790 the Japanese artist Utamaro, in collaboration with certain versifiers , brought out this book of birds placed in floral settings, each group accompanied by a poem in the form of ''kyota'' or ''mad verse.'' The original, called ''One Hundred Birds in a Competition of Humorous Poetry'' appeared in two volumes, while this admirable facsimile is in one. The pages pull out from the cover so that each double-page picture opens flat, all of them coming from a continuous strip of accordion folds.

Utamaro, whose alluring woodcuts of beautiful women have delighted the world for two centuries, was then at the height of his career, in full command of his art. The little poems, written by many poets, are inscribed, one to a scene, in the most graceful calligraphy. Witty, satirical, amorous, they are attributed to the birds, and we are given an English translation at the back. The birds, true to nature, perfect in detail, are lovely in pose, color, and design whether they are skylarks, egrets, owls, or even chickens. This entrancing book is a real treasure, gentle and cryptic; each page a masterpiece.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK