Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

1786-1865

A Pictorial Commentary on One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets: no. 84, Priest Shun'e
(Hyakunin isshu esho: Shun'e Hoshi)

signed Ichiyosai Toyokuni ga with red Toshidama seal, censor's seals Hama and Kingusa, followed by the publisher's seal Sanoki (Sanoya Kihei of Kikaudo), ca. 1847

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 10 in., 36 by 25.4 cm

A young beauty wearing a furisode (lit. 'swinging sleeves') kimono decorated with morning glories holds an origami crane in her hands and looks to her right with an expression of delight. Her merry demeanour stands in contrast with the long, dark night of soul-searching described in the accompanying poem.

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. The changes to the format may be responsible for some confusion that led to the numbering of the prints sometimes falling out of sequence with the numbering of the poems in the Hyakunin isshu. 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 I in volume 6.

The open book cartouche overlapping a band of genjimon (Genji incense patterns) illustrates a portrait of the Priest Shun'e paired with his poem number 85 from the Hyakunin isshu.

Yomosugara
mono-omofu koro ha
ake-yarade
neya no hima sahe
tsurenakarikeri

All through the night
recently, as I dwell on things,
it does not dawn, and even the gap
between the doors of my bedroom
seems cruel and heartless to me

References:
Joshua S. Mostow, The Hundred Poets Compared, 2007, p. 204, no. 85 (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
(inv. no. 10-5252)

price: $650

kikumon

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