Kunichika: Advertisement for Kimono Dealer
Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: Kimono Dealer Kasasen-ya, the beauty Koto and Okina Plaid design
Series: Tokyo jiman meibutsu awase 東京自慢名物会 (Pictures of Famous Attractions as Pride of Tokyo)
Fascinating example of Meiji Period advertising, which manages to mix Edo-era motifs and love of mitate (comparisons) with an early example of product placement. There are layered comparisons and analogies which now require some detective work to decipher.
Here we have the Kimono dealer Kasasen-ya advertised at the top, with the beauty Matsumoto Koto, bottom right, and the plaid dye design which is often worn by the character of the Old Man Okina from Noh plays, lower left. There are actually three artists: Ayoaka, Kunichika and Baiso Kaoro.
On the fan is written “Hakuchi of Artists’ Circle (gei-rin Hakuchi)“ written by Bira Tatsu. Shórin Hakuchi (186-1932) was famous story teller, especially of war stories.
At top: Kimono Dealer Kasasen-ya (Gofuku-ya Kasasen-ya): owner Kaneya Eijiró, specialized in Old Indigo Tie Dye Design (kodai no ai-shibori mo-some); flowers and bird design by Ayaoka (Ayaoka utsushi). The artist is Ayaoka II Yushin, a pupil of Shibata Zeshin. Lower right: Beauty Matsumoto Koto at Itó Kofumi at Shinbashi (Shinbashi oite Itó Kofumi; Matsumoto Koto) by Kunichika; Koto is hanging a painting scroll on the wall. Carver’s seal: Taku Shoku Hori. Lower Left: Comparison to Plaid Dye Design “Old Man Okina with White Hair, Character in Noh Play" (shiraga no okina) (Mitate moyó shiraga no okina kóshi). We see a design used for the noh costume for the character Okina.
This series consists of 103 sheet of harimaze-e published by Fukuda Kumajiró during 1896-97. It has a great similarity of the harimaze-e series “Edo no hana no meisho-e "(1862-65). The composition consists of three parts: the upper part for a picture of a famous shop, the bottom right for female artists or geisha, the bottom left for the mitate textile designs related to the famous things/places. Also, at the bottom of the series title there is a fan, on which the name of rakugo or kódan story tellers and musicians, the artists of yose theaters.
The title of the series Tokyo jiman meibutsu-e, is decorated with a small pink flower on a slender branch. The sensu, a folding fan shows the name of rakugo-ka, in their special type of writing. (rakugo-ka=a traditional enjoyable story teller): here ‘Sanyú-tei Enfuku’. The rakugo-ka brings almost always a fan with him on the stage as an instrument for story telling. (We thank Ms. Michiko Sato-Grube for her thorough research on this series.)
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Album backing. Beautifully printed, with blindprinting in the white areas.
Dimensions: ôban (35.6 x 24.2 cm)
Signatures: Upon request painted by Ayaoka (Óju Ayaoka utsushi); Kunichika hitsu; Baiso Kaoru-an (=designed)with his seal Sekine