Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

1786-1865

A Pictorial Commentary on One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets: no. 70, Priest Ryozen
(Hyakunin isshu esho: Ryozen)

signed Kochoro Toyokuni ga with red Toshidama seal, censor's seals Yoshimura and Muramatsu, followed by the publisher's seal Sanoki (Sanoya Kihei of Kikaudo), ca. 1846

oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 10 in., 36.2 by 25.3 cm

A young beauty holding a uchiwa fan demurely covers her mouth as she glances over her shoulder.

After issuing the 37th design in this series (except no. 47) of 100 poet prints, Kunisada changed the framework of the compositions by eliminating the series title and replacing the poem cards with a cartouche in the shape of an open book illustrating the featured poet and poem. Capitalizing on his recent success as illustrator of the serialized novel by Ryutei Tanehiko, Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji (A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki) which was published from 1829-1842, Kunisada introduced Genji-related motifs to 42 subsequent prints this series and referenced his own designs from the covers of the updated Genji. The composition of this print references the cover illustration of part II in volume 31.

The open book cartouche overlapping a band of genjimon (Genji incense patterns) illustrates a portrait of the Priest Ryozen paired with his poem number 70 from the Hyakunin isshu.

Sabishisa ni
yado wo tachi-idete
nagamureba
idzuko mo onaji
aki no yufugure

When from loneliness,
I stand up and leave my hut
and look distractedly about:
everywhere it is the same
evening in autumn

References:
Joshua S. Mostow, The Hundred Poets Compared, 2007, p. 174, no. 70 (poem translation)
Jeff Hopewell, Kunisada 100 Poets Prints Derived from Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji Images, Kunisada.de, 2008
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2021, pp. 14-15, no. 4
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.21223
(inv. no. 10-5247)

price: $800

kikumon

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