Kunichika woodblock print

Toyohara Kunichika, (1835-1900)

Fifty-Four Modern Feelings [Matched with the Fifty-Four Chapters of Genji]: Chapter 38; Suzumushi
(Genji gojuyonjo: dai sanjuhachi go, Suzumushi)

signed Toyohara Kunichika hitsu, the date on the left-hand margin, on todoke Meiji - nen - getsu - nichi (respectfuly reporting Meiji - year - month - day) followed by the address of the publisher, Hongin-cho, Ni-chome, Juni banchi (Hongin [Ginza] area, 2nd town, 12th district), his name, Takegawa Seikichi, and the carver's mark Hori Gin, ca. 1884

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 5/8 in., 35.8 by 24.3 cm

In chapter 38, Suzumushi ('The Bell Cricket'), of the original Genji Monogatari ('Tale of Genji'), Genji's wife, the Third Princess, consumed by her guilt in conceiving a son (Kaoru) with Kashiwagi (the son of Genji's closest friend), completes her vows to become a nun. Although Genji has reason to be upset, he finds that he enjoys her company even more now, and visits her more frequently. During one visit he notices the beautiful music made by the bell crickets in her garden. In this updated composition, Kunichika depicts two elegantly dressed married women (identified by their hair and high eyebrow make-up) walking in the moonlight near a small stream with autumnal grasses. As both beauties carry fans we know the season is warm and they are likely enjoying the evening cool.

Reference:
Miyeko Murase, The Tale of Genji: Legends and Paintings, 2001, no. 38

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