Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

1786-1865

A Pictorial Commentary on One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets: no. 88, Imperial Princess Shokushi
(Hyakunin isshu esho: Shokushi Naishinno)

signed Kochoro 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 beauty wearing a striped furisode (lit. 'swinging sleeves') kimono is seated before a kotsuzumi (small double-skin hourglass-shaped drum) which rests on a lacquer stand.

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. 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. Although this is identified as print number 88 in the series, the open book cartouche overlapping a band of genjimon (Genji incense patterns) illustrates a portrait of the Imperial Princess Shokushi accompanied by her poem number 89 from the Hyakunin isshu.

Tama no wo yo
tahenabe taene
nagaraheba
shinoburu koto no
yohari mo zo suru

O, jewelled thread of life!
if you are to break, then break now!
for, if I live on,
my ability to hide my love
will most surely weaken!

References:
Joshua S. Mostow, The Hundred Poets Compared, 2007, p. 212, no. 89 (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. 10-5253)

price: $750

kikumon

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site last updated
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145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
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