Kuniyoshi: Harimaze drawing (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Title: Harimaze drawing
Date: ca 1840s

A drawing for a yôkai harimaze print. This is a rare example of a preparatory drawing, as it is a highly preliminary sketch by Kuniyoshi to lay out his ideas and to get a feeling for the overall design. A number of the stories seem to relate to magical cats. Above is a catlike creature with two tails, probably a nekomata, which are bakeneko (monster cats) with two tails. A similar creature may be seen in Kuniyoshi’s print from the Haiyu Hakkenshi series. Clockwise from the cat monster is a narrow cartouche with a standing figure and what looks a cat on its hind legs that he could be dancing with. In the corner is a female ghost, with what looks like a cat at her feet and a string of drying gourds near a straw roof. Below right is what looks like a seated oni (demon), gesturing towards a wispy figure. Next to that is a round cartouche with with a Chinese princess riding the waves with two attendants holding standards. This is probably Otohime, daughter of the dragon king, from the story of Urashima Tarô. Continuing left is a young woman holding her hands aloft, something rounded in her right hand. At left is a woman spinning thread, with dancing cats all around her. This could be Station Okabe from the kabuki play “Traveling Alone along the Fifty-three Stations”, as it involves an old woman who is spinning thread and a ghost cat. (SeeTokaido Texts and Tales, page 84, number 22). Above, a ghost is perhaps emanating from the top of the lantern, along with seated cats or perhaps tenuki. This is a very interesting drawing, as it shows probably the earliest layout concept of the artist, outlining his ideas to paper for the first time. Provenance: Javal Collection, then European collector. Javal may have bought this from Bing, the dealer who supplied Van Gogh with his collection of Japanese prints. This design was presumably never published.

Condition: Backed onto a heavier paper.
Dimensions: 20.1 x 39.2 cm