Preparatory Drawing for print of 'ABC Poems for Beautiful Courtesans: The Syllable Ro, Tsukasa of the Ogiya'
(Bijin Keisei iroha tanka: Ro Ogiya uchi Tsukasa)
sumi ink drawing with detailed notations for the carver and printer indicating the intended coloration, unsigned, ca. early 1820s
conserved on achival paper 15 3/4 by 11 in., 40.1 by 27.8 cm
This drawing relates directly to a woodblock print from Kunisada's Bijin Keisei iroha Tanka series published in the early 1820s by Yamaguchiya Tobei of Kinkodo. It appears to be the near-final version of the composition, with very detailed instructions for the carver and printer on how the coloration should be addressed. The notations call for the black and gold striped pattern, the purple brocade on her obi flowing down to her feet and the green details on the flowers. Interestingly, sometimes the color isn't given but instead the need for carving the dots into the plaster wall and the stone cistern, or the pattern on the underside of the plant at left. While the absolute final version of the design, the hanshita, would be destroyed in the normal process of carving the keyblock, drawings of this type would have been helpful to keep on hand during the production process, particularlly for the printer, to ensure that the artist's intentions were followed.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.15644 (dated about 1810s-1820s)
Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, accession no. 2005.298 (dated 1822)
(inv. no. 10-2688)
price: $ 1,500
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