Kunisada II: The Cat Witch of Okabe

Utagawa Kunisada II

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada II
Title: The Cat Witch of Okabe
Date: 1852

The actor Segawa Kikunoji V as the Cat Witch Ama Myochin. She peeks from behind a split bamboo curtain, her hair in a fluffy halo. From behind the curtain we see the shadows of claws, ears, and a giant tail. Beautifully printed, with blindprinting on the white collar of the kosode. Flower petals fall all around her. This is the dramatic highlight of the play, and the best design from the series. We feel that something is about to happen, and indeed she apparently murders the father of the dog hero Inamura Kakutaro and assumes his form. The writer Bakin spent 38 years writing this serialized novel of 106 volumes set in a time of medieval war and supernatural creatures. This design was chosen as a frontispiece for Andreas Marks's fantastic recent book "Japanese Woodblock Prints in 200 Masterpieces", published by Taschen in 2019. This work has made the cut, and the Rijksmuseum example is shown on page 448, catalog number 148.

Series: Storybook of the Eight Dog Heroes (Hakkenden inu no zoshi no uchi)
Condition:  Excellent impression. Very good color and condition. Minor trimming
Dimensions: ôban 35.8 x 24.7 cm
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo
Lit:  J. Hillier, Japanese Masters of the Colour Print, Phaidon Press, 1954, illus. 78 (misidentified in 1st edition as by Kunisada I). A Marks, Japanese Woodblock Prints in 200 Masterpieces: From Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga, Taschen, 2019, catalog number 148.
Signature: Ichiyosai Kunisada ga.


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