Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


A Pictorial Commentary on One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets: no. 95, Saki no Daisojo Jien
(Hyakunin isshu esho: Saki no Daisojo Jien)

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

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 10 in., 35.9 by 25.3 cm

A beauty seated beside a folding screen and an open insect cage holds an uchiwa fan at her shoulder as she attempts to catch the fireflies flitting around her. Although all of the designs in this series of 100 hundred prints were issued as individual sheets (with relevant signature and seals), there are several instances where consecutive designs relate to one another, but only occaisonally with elements that connect the compositions. This print can form the left hand sheet of a diptych comprised of design number 94 on the right featuring a poem by Sangi Masatsune and a beauty peering over the top of the standing screen.

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 illustration on the ninth double page of part I of volume 35.

The open book cartouche overlapping a band of genjimon (Genji incense patterns) illustrates a portrait of the Former Major Archbishop Jien, accompanied by his poem number 95 from the Hyakunin isshu.

Ohoke naku
uki yo no tami ni
ohofu kana
waga tatsu soma ni
sumi-zome no sode

Inadequate, but
they must shelter the folk
of this wretched world -
my ink-black sleeves, having begun
to live
'in this timber-forest that I enter'

Joshua S. Mostow, The Hundred Poets Compared, 2007, p. 224, no. 95 (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
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.15460
(inv. no. 10-5255)

price: $800


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site last updated
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