Four Seasons of Genji by Joint Brushes: Spring at Mount Arashi
(Genji gappitsu shiki: Haru Arashiyama)
signed on the right sheet, Oju ki-o Toyokuni ga (by request, with happiness [at the age of 77] drawn by Toyokuni), and on the left sheet, Hiroshige ga, with block carver's seal of Katada Chojiro, publisher's seal of Fujiokaya Keijiro, and censor's date seal, inu-juichi aratame (year of the dog , 11th month, approved), 1862
oban tate-e triptych 30 1/8 by 14 5/8 in., 76.5 by 37 cm
This print is one of fifteen collaborative 'joint-brush' Genji-themed triptychs issued by Kunisada (1786-1865) with Hiroshige II (1829-1869) between 1859 and 1864. Kunisada had also issued thirteen collaborative Genji triptychs with Hiroshige I, until the later's passing in 1858.
This design, published in 1862, is particularly interesting because it incorporates unusual foreign details including the oriental carpets upon which a picnic is laid while the central figure holds a telescope. The layers of references conveyed by these visual cues are complex: the Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji (A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki) subject, itself a modernization of the 10th century epic story, Genji Monogatari (The Tales of Genji), is presented first within a framework of another classical theme, Shikishi (The Four Seasons) as identified in the title, but then the Western references seem to be a deliberate nod to the burgeoning market for Yokohama-e, woodblock printed images of the foreigners recently settling in the port city of Yokohama.
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, pp. 222; 230-231, cat. no. 239
(inv. no. 10-5071)
price: $ 2,200
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