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Turtle Fun: Wonderful, Wonderful

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Japanese, (1797–1861)
Turtle Fun: Wonderful, Wonderful, 1848
Ink on Paper
14 3/16 in. x 9 7/8 in. (360.36 mm x 250.83 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. Fred Marer
Accession Number: 93.3.122


Commentary
Right part of a triptych.

Marks
Title on piece in pencil: "Actors portrayed as turtles." Artist's seal: Kiri. Signed: Ichiyosai Kuniyoshi. Censor's seal: double censor's seals (Mera and Murata).

Medium
Colored ink on paper; oban.

Object Description
Right sheet of a triptych, depicting turtles with the faces of kabuki actors.

"Despite gradual relaxation of the ban on actor prints after 1846, it was still forbidden to name actors or show their crests, so the likenesses here are abetted by distinctive 'markings' on each turtle shell, which allude to the relevent actor's name either in the form of a stylized version of his stage crest or some other way. Thus, the 'senior' turtle in the bottom right corner is Nakamura Utaemon IV and the stylised plum blossom pattern on his shell refers to his family's acting crest."

(Timothy Clark, Kuniyoshi, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2009, pg. 281.)

Publisher
Yamashiroya Heisuke.

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