Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Comparisons for Thirty-Six Selected Poems: Poem by Ariwara no Narihira Ason, Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as the Ghost of Seigen
(Mitate Sanjurokkasen no Uchi: Ariwara no Narihira Ason, Seigen)
signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, the series title at upper right with poem cartouche, with publisher's seal Kichi, Isekane (Iseya Kanekichi), block carver's seal Yokokawa Hori Take, censor's seals Muramatsu and Fuku, and date seal Ne-ju (year of the rat , 10th month)
oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 10 1/8 in., 36.2 by 25.6 cm
The actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) is in the role of the Ghost Seigen, who haunts his former lover Sakura-hime.
The poem is by Ariwara no Narihira (825-880):
Yo no naka ni
taete sakura no
haru no kokoro wa
If ours were a world
where blossoming cherry trees
were not to be found,
what tranquility would bless
the human heart in springtime
Helen Craig McCullough, Kokin Wakasha: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry, 1985, p.24
Museum of Fine Art, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Burgess Collection, accession nos. 11.36779.43 and 11.42663
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February 26, 2021
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