Utagawa Hiroshige & Utagawa Kunisada, Scenery of Tago Bay

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) & Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865)

Scenery of Tago Bay
(Tago no ura fuken)

the right sheet signed Toyokuni ga, the left sheet titled and signed Tagonoura no fukei (The Landscape of Tago Bay by) Hiroshige ga, with artist's seal Ichiryusai, censor's seal aratame and date seal Mi-juni (year of the snake, 12th month), and publisher's seal Jin (Maruya Jinpachi of Tokokudo), 1857

oban tate-e triptych 29 7/8 by 14 1/8 in., 76 by 36 cm

From 1829-42, the publisher Tsuruya Kiemon began issuing a serialized novel, Nise Murasaki inaka Genji (A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki), which was illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), arguably the most popular and definitely the most prolific ukiyo-e artist of his time. The saga was a contemporary adaptation by the writer Ryutei Tanehiko (1783-1842) of the classic 10th century novel Genji Monagatari (The Tale of Genji). Ryutei's version was set in the fifteenth century, and followed the general theme of the original epic novel, but was written in modern language and embellished with kabuki theatrics. The success of the Inaka Genji ('A Rustic Genji'), told in 38 chapters which were issued in 76 booklets, spurred on a rage in a new genre of woodblock prints: Genji-e (Genji pictures) featuring the star of the novel, Mitsuuji, in his various romantic escapades. Beginning in 1838, artists and publishers began producing Genji-e, with Kunisada leading the way, and reaching a peak in production by the 1850s.

This triptych was produced at the height of the Genji craze. In the 1850s, Kunisada, the leading figural artist, and Utagawa Hiroshige, the leading landscape artist, began collaborating on a group of multi-paneled Genji-e with Mitsuuji and his beauties portrayed by Kunisada and placed within landscapes designed by Hiroshige. Most of the prints were identified with specific episodes from Inaka Genji, however some, such as this work, placed Mitsuuji within scenic view without a connection to the story.

Matthi Forrer, The Baur Collection, 1994, Vol. II, cat. no. G580
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, pp. 10-17, and p. 186, no. 185, G509



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Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475