Toyohara Kunichika, (1835-1900)
Fifty-Four Modern Feelings [Matched with the Fifty-Four Chapters of Genji]: Chapter 50; Azumaya
(Genji gojuyonjo: daigoju go, Azumaya)
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 (partially obscured), ca. 1884
oban tate-e 14 by 9 1/2 in., 35.7 by 24.2 cm
Chapter 50 of the Genji Monogatari ('Tale of Genji') concerns the rivalry between Prince Niou (the son of the Akashi emperior, and Kaoru (recognized as the son of Genji but is actually the son of Genji's wife the Third Princess and an affair with Kashiwagi). Both young men vie for the affections of a great beauty, Ukifune, who had recently arrived at the court. The Prince locates Ukifune and wastes no time attempting to seduce her. When he is suddenly called away, Ukifune's half-sister and guardian, Nakanokimi, attempts to distract the girl with stories of old romances.
A classic composition illustrating this chapter shows the ladies studying hand scrolls or illustrated books while seated on a verandah. In this updated version, a courtesan (identified by her obi tied in the front and her risqué display of her red under-robe) standing at a railing while gazing at a snowy landscape.
Miyeko Murase, The Tale of Genji: Legends and Paintings, 2001, no. 50
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