Chrysanthemum and Bee - Katsushika Hokusai
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Against a light blue ground, a bee flies down to some chrysanthemums in bloom. Chrysanthemums, which feature in the imperial crest and symbolize the ninth month, are among Japan’s most popular flowers. Since classical times they have been a favorite subject in painting as well as in various arts and crafts.
Hokusai depicted chrysanthemums on numerous occasions, mostly in his surimono made soon after 1800, one of which has an exhibition of them as its subject.
For those of you who answered “mums,” “kiku,” “chrysanthemums,” or any combination of the above for the other day’s GIF query, you were right—Fall Flowers of Japan: Kiku will be back in the NYBG this year. I’ll have more on these carefully-arranged icons of horticultural know-how in the coming weeks! —MN