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Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Actors at the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido: Tsuchiyama, Akogi no Heiji
([Yakusha mitate] Tokaido gojusan tsugi no uchi: Tsuchiyama, Akogi no Heiji)

signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, carver's seal Hori Mino (Koizumi Minokichi), publisher's seal Kichi, Izutsuya (Izutsuya Shokichi), censor's seals Hama and Magome, and date seal Ne-go (year of the rat [1852], 5th month)

oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 3/4 in., 35.2 by 24.8 cm

The actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV (1812-1866) is in the role of Akogi no Heiji from the play Seishu Akogi ga ura (The Akogi Bay in Seishu). Heiji's mother was very sick, and the only cure was to eat the rare yagara fish from Akogi Bay. Though fishing in the bay was forbidden by the Ise Imperial shrines, Heiji was so moved by his filial piety that he tried one stormy night to catch the fish. Unbeknownst to our hero, there was another illegal fisherman at the bay that night, a man named Jorizo who regularly violated the regulation for far less noble purposes. The calculating Jorizo raised the alarm and confronted Heiji, seizing the opportunity to shift the suspicions of illegal activity held by the shrine from himself onto this new would-be stooge. In the last drag of his net, Heiji pulls an ancient sword from the water, which he uses to fend off Jorizo and flee, losing his jacket and hat in the process. This composition depicts a desperate Heiji escaping the bay, the brocade-wrapped sword tucked into his robe.

Andreas Marks, Kunisada's Tokaido: Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2013, p. 156, cat. T63-50
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (, from the Bigelow Collection, accession nos. 11.29443, 11.29524.29, 11.29525.38, 11.43276, and 59.1147.77

price: Sold


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