Genji Incense Signs (54 prints)
(Genji-ko no zu)
album with blue embossed paper cover (worn and separated) with gold paper title slip, with complete series of fifty-four chuban prints; each signed Ichiyosai Toyokuni ga, with censor seal Muramatsu (Muramatsu Genroku, active ca. 1843-46) and publisher's mark, Kyu, of Yamamotoya Heikichi, 1844-46
chuban tate-e 9 7/8 by 7 1/8 in., 25.1 by 18 cm
In 1829 the writer Ryutei Tanehiko (1783-1842) began to publish a serial novel based on the classic 10th century epic, Genji Monogatari,(The Tale of Genji) written by an unidentified court lady known as Lady Murasaki. This updated Genji, Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji (The Imitation Murasaki and the Rustic Genji, sometimes known as Genji in the Countryside) sparked a new fascination with all things Genji. The modern novel was completed in 1842 with the publication of the seventy-sixth and final booklet, but the popularity of Genji as a subject lasted well into the 1850s, inspiring numerous print series based on both the new and old versions of the tale.
In this series, Kunisada illustrates famous scenes from each chapter of the original Genji Monogatari based on traditional Tosa school compositions. While most Genji-themed print series updated the figures to contemporary clothing and hairstyles of the period, here Kunisada models the facial features using the classical technique of hikime kagibana (lit. 'slit eyes, hooked nose') and adheres to Heian Period court fashions. Kunisada seems to have been inspired by a similar series issued from ca. 1795-1800 by his teacher, Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825).
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, p. 12-13 (on series), fig. 1 (Asago chapter), appendix no. G303
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am - 5pm, by appointment.
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit.
site last updated
August 22, 2019
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
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