Kuniyoshi Drawing

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861

Preparatory Drawing related to right sheet of triptych 'Modern Choices'
(Mitate tosei)

sumi ink drawing with detailed notations for the carver and printer indicating the intended coloration, unsigned, ca. 1829

conserved on achival paper 15 3/4 by 11 in., 40.1 by 27.8 cm

This drawing relates directly to the right-hand sheet of a scarce triptych published by Omi-ya Heihachi in circa 1829 titled on each sheet, Mitate tosei (Modern Choices) which illustrates women from the four divisions of society, known as shinokosho, which were based on Confucian ideals and were rarely, if ever, determined by choice. The Kuniyoshi Project online managed to assemble images of the three sheets (the right and left in black and white photos) of the printed triptych, reading from the right sheet (which corresponds to this drawing): shi (samurai, at the top), no (farmers) , ko (craftsmen) and sho (merchants, at the bottom). The two ladies of the samurai class are well-dressed in a suitably refined palette. The drawing indicates that the forward beauty's predominately white furisode ('swinging sleeves') was intended to have bokashi (gradation) of purple near the sleeve which is indicated with dash lines about half way down. The figure behind her was intended to have a dark green kimono with lighter green spots. The muted colors of the center sheet visible at the Kuniyoshi Project illustrates a bawdy woman sitting on a sheaf of grains and breast-feeding a baby with her kimono pulled open past her shoulders representing the farming class; together with a sensible woman of the craftsmen class wearing a practical short jacket over her kimono. As the craftswoman is carrying a hoe over her shoulder one wonders if their identifiers should be reversed. On the left sheet a ranking courtesan with her kamuro with their resplendent clothing and array of hair ornaments are representing the merchant class--for it was primarily the merchants who could afford their dazzling company.

Reference:
The Kuniyoshi Project (kuniyoshiproject.com), Triptychs of Beautiful Women, Part III
(inv. no. 10-2707)

$1,200

translation of color notations

Kuniyoshi Drawing

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861

Preparatory Drawing related to right sheet of triptych 'Spring View with Fashionable Women'
(Tosei haru geshiki)

sumi ink drawing with detailed notations for the carver and printer indicating the intended coloration, unsigned, ca. 1829

conserved on achival paper 15 3/4 by 11 in., 40.1 by 27.8 cm

This drawing relates directly to the right-hand sheet of a scarce triptych titled on each sheet, Tosei haru geshiki (Spring View with Fashionable Women, or, An Up-to-date Spring Scene) which was published by Omi-ya Heihachi in circa 1829. Drawings of this type would have been helpful to keep on hand during the production process, particularlly for the printer, to ensure that the artist's intentions were followed. In comparison with the complete triptych published in the Ota Memorial Museum of Art catalogue the coloration of the final print followed the instructions on this drawing, including the distant treeline which is marked sakura (cherry), trusting the printer to deftly handle multiple shades of pink as needed.

References:
Kuniyoshi: 150th Memorial Retrospective: Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2011, p. 164, no. 184 (complete triptych)

$1,200

translation of color notations

These drawings were discovered within a small collection of preparatory works illustrating beautiful women, all dating to circa 1825-30s either stylistically or by matching designs directly to published prints by a handful of artists. Initially these two compositions were thought to be two parts of a multi-panel print due to the continuous (if not quite connecting) tree line in the distance. However, both were eventually matched to two different triptychs by Utagawa Kuniyoshi published by Omiya Heihachi. As such, it would appear that Kuniyoshi may have produced the designs as an intended six-panel set, which the publisher chose to separate into two triptychs with unrelated titles.

kikumon

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