Narita Morikane

dates unknown

Twenty-Four Figures of Charming Women: Combing Her Hair (suggested title)
(Adesugata Nijushiko: Kamisuki)

the series title at the upper right, Adesugata Nijushiko, signed below, Morikane, with artist's seal Morikane, publisher's mark Yama-se and seal at lower left corner, Hanken shoyu fukyo fukusei, Shinbisha (copyright ownership, reproduction not allowed, Shinbisha), ca. 1931

dai oban tate-e 16 5/8 by 11 1/8 in., 42.1 by 28.3 cm

The biographical details of Narita Morikane are unknown. This collaborative series, with designs by Morikane and Ohira Kasen (1900-1983), may never have been completed. The innocuous title, Twenty-four Figures of Charming Women, refers to the classical Confucian theme, Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety (Nijushiko), but belies this series of rather risqué designs. In Light and Darkness, Kendall Brown suggests that the nudes and semi-nudes of this type are likely geisha preparing for work, and as such, the title of this series may be a social commentary on the government's justification of prostitution as an act of filial sacrifice for Japan as the 'national' parent.

As all twenty-four designs have not been recorded (yet), it is possible that the publisher, Shinbisha, was forced to stop production due to pressure from the government which was becoming more nationalistic and conservative in the 1930s.

Kendall Brown, Light and Darkness: Women in Japanese Prints of Early Showa (1926-1945), p., 61, cat no. 67
Amy Reigle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, 2000, no. 202
Nihon no hanga IV 1931-1940, Munakata Shiko tojo (Japanese Prints IV, 1931-1940, The Debut of Munakata), Chiba City Museum of Art, 2004, p. 100, no. 197-1
(inv. no. 10-4812)

price: Sold


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