Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Seven Komachi
(Nana Komachi no uchi)

seven chuban prints; each signed Kochoro Kunisada ga, with publisher's double-gourd seal Fukusendo (Kawaguchiya Uhei), ca. 1825-30

each chuban approximately 9 7/8 by 7 1/8 in., 25 by 18 cm

A set of seven prints depicting famous episodes from the life of the Immortal Poet, Ono no Komachi (ca. 825-900). A renowned poet in her own time, she was also quite the beauty and a heartbreaker, indulging in several romantic liaisons. A collection of apocryphal stories from her life focusing on her remorse for her own pride and vanity in her youth, the Nana Komachi (Seven Komachi), were a favorite theme in plays and ukiyo-e, first appearing in the 14th century as No plays written by Zeami (1363-1443) and Kan'ami (1333-84).

This series mimics the scale and format of a traditional painted album, portraying Komachi in traditional courtly dress with voluminous layers of junihitoe (lit. twelve-layered robe) with long hair flowing over the folds of her clothing down to the floor, paired with the relevant poem from an episode of her life in brushed in delicate calligraphy emerging from a stylized cloud above and with the background decorated with flecks of yellow and orange meant to suggest the tiny flakes of scattered gold embellishing a fine album leaf.

1. Soshi Arai Komachi (washing the book)
2. Sekidera Komachi (Seki Temple)
3. Shimizu Komachi (Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto)
4. Kayoi Komachi (visiting with an attendant whilst still young)
5. Ama koi Komachi (praying for rain)
6. Omu Komachi (parrot Komachi)
7. Sotoba Komachi (seated on a wooden grave post)

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, acquisition nos. 2009.4991.22--24; 26-28 2009.4991.29

price: Sold


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