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Couples

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Mizuno Toshikata, Japanese, (1866–1908)
Student (kuchi-e), 1903
Ink on Paper
8 5/8 in. x 11 3/16 in. (21.91 cm x 28.42 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2003.1.87


Commentary
This work is an example of “kuchi-e” illustrations, which functioned as fold out front pieces for romance novels and literary magazines published between 1890-1914. Kuchi-e partly originated out of the decreasing appreciation of traditional Ukiyo-e prints, which pushed artists to look for other means of income. Despite merely functioning as illustrations for literature, these were still very high quality productions, and could sometimes constitute half the cost of the whole book, indicating the popularity of pictorial narratives in Japan. This kuchi-e was for a newspaper series of the bestselling novel, Konjiki Yasha (“Demon Gold”) by Ozaki Koyo (1868-1903). The piece shows Shigisawa Miya strolling through a plum garden and being instructed by her husband, Tomiyama Tadatsugu, whom she chose to marry over her childhood lover (upper right corner), as a result of her desire for money and status. The subject matter of the novel and the depictions (specifically the Western attire of the husband) in the print may be reflective of society’s experience of encroaching Western values, and increasing focus on material wealth as a yardstick for measuring status and goodness. Being geared towards a female audience, kuchi-e frequently centered around themes of romance, specifically the plight of women, which demonstrates the way in which audience began to shape the nature of popular arts and media in Meiji Japan.

Ana Farooq (student, 2016)

Edition
Good impression and colors.

Marks
Signed Toshikata, with artist's seal.

Medium
Colored ink woodblock print.

Object Description
Meiji period color woodblock print depicting a well-dressed couple (Tomiyama Tadatsugu and Shigasawa Miya) strolling in a plum blossom garden. A man with a red blanket on his head ( Hazama Kan'ichi, the jilted lover) is studying in the inset. A kuchi-e for "Konjiki Yasha" (Demon Gold), a novel by Ozaki Koyo (1868-1903) for Yomiuri Shinbun.

Publisher
Shun' yodo.

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