Utagawa Kunisada II, 1823-1880 and Kawanabe Kyosai, 1831-1889
Koman of the Minoya
kakemono-e; the landscape in the background of the upper sheet signed, Shosho Kyosai with circular red artist's seal, and signed to the right of the figure, O-ko Kunisada ga with artist's Toshidama seal, with combined censer and date seal, U-go aratame (year of the hare , 5th month, examined), and carver's seal on the lower sheet, Hori Katada Chojiro, with publisher's seal Tsukiji, Daikin (Daikokuya Kinnosuke), 1867
oban tate-e vertical diptych 28 1/2 by 9 5/8 in., 72.4 by 24.5 cm
The beauty Koman wears a light weight cotton yukata dyed in shades of indigo blue and uses a towel to dry around her neck while she looks out towards a shoreline where geese are seen descending against a full moon. She has apparently partaken of the hot springs offered at the Minoya, a (now) 300 year-old onsen ryokan (hot springs inn) located near the entrance to the Yahiko Shrine in Niigata, Echigo Province known for it's access to the Yu-jinja hot springs and beautiful views out over the Sea of Japan and the Echigo Plains.
This print is one of a small group of relatively scarce kakemono-e published by Daikokuya Kinnosuke in 1867 featuring bijin designed by Kunisada II with background landscapes designed by other artists. The construct, reminiscent of the popular collaborative series pairing figures with Tokaido stations, or Inaka Genji (Mitsuji) subjects with landscapes, innovatively adapts to the kakemono-e format by elongating the composition vertically which amplifies the presence of both the figure and the landscape.
It is not known how many of these collaborative vertical diptych designs Daikokuya published, very few are extant primarily because they were intended to be mounted as hanging scrolls (an affordable substitute for an original painting) and thus more-likely to have been hung, enjoyed, appreciated and eventually damaged. In addition to this remarkably well-preserved print, two other designs featuring landscapes by Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) are recorded by the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum. Another composition mounted as a hanging scroll in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art features a beauty pausing to look over her shoulder at the background landscape of a teahouse under a crescent moon designed by Miyagi Gengyo (1817-1880).
Collections of the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum 30th Anniversary Catalogue, 2008, cat. no. 709 (this composition) and 710-711 Minneapolis Institute of Art, accession no. 2013.29.1143 (another from the series)
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