Description from the exhibition: Hokusai Manga and other ukiyo-e prints of various qualities reached Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and had great influence on the turn-of-the-century artists in Paris, including Manet, Monet, and van Gogh, among many others. One of the theories of influence connecting Manet and ukiyo-e is the minimized, or often completely empty, background in many of his portrait paintings. Also in this work, Manet creates close observations of the cats' gestures rather than drawing a more rigidly posed style. The casual approach and observation from nature share the artistic sensibility found in many images from Hokusai Manga.
Description from the exhibition: 'This print is for the express purpose of educating people about the lion. The text at the top right succinctly explains that the lion is said to be "the king of the beasts" and that it inhabits Africa. Illustrated books on natural history and zoological studies from Europe had been circulating among Japanese scholars since the early Edo period (1615-1868). For example, Edo-period scholars of Dutch studies (Rangaku) were familiar with realistic depictions of lions in Historiae Naturalis by the Polish scholar John Jonston (1603-75). The lion family in this print indicates that the image is based on such natural history books and zoological encyclopedias imported from Europe and frequently copied by Japanese scholars and artists.'