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Genji

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Utagawa Kunisada (aka Toyokuni III), Japanese, (1786–1864)
Tale of Genji: Ch. 04, Yugao, c. 1850
Ink on Paper
9 3/4 in. x 14 1/16 in. (247.65 mm x 357.19 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Frederick S. Bailey
Accession Number: 54.1.21


Marks
Signed: Ichiyosai Toyokuni ga. Censor's seal: double censor's seal (Fuku and Muramatsu).

Medium
Colored ink on thick paper; woodblock print.

Object Description
Edo period color woodblock print with an image of five women, doing normal activities, in an interior setting.

On his way to visit Lady Rokujo, Genji passed a humble gateway where he saw a flower called "Evening Faces" (Yugao) and asked his friend Koremitsu to pick a blossom for him. As Koremitsu broke off a flower, a woman offered a fan on which to carry it, saying "It isn't much of a fan, but then it isn't much of a flower either." Eventually Genji, shown here leaning on his palanquin, would have a passionate affair with the "Lady of the Evening Faces."

Kunisada provides a rather matter-of-fact treatment of the episode, with all the elements described in the text crowded into his composition. However, Genji, Yugao and their attendants are dressed in stylish 19th c. garments instead of 10th c. costumes, thus modernizing the encounter. The paper lantern next to Genji, like the wall behind him and the border of the print, all carry the "Genji ko " symbol for the "Yugao" chapter.

Publisher
Kansendo (Izumi-ya Ichibei).

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