Kunimori: Fan print of Beauty With Two Mirrors (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kunimori (active ca. 1820s-40s)
Title: Returning Palaquin” (Modori-kagoもどり駕)
Date: Ca. 1830s

A beauty uses two mirrors to check the perfection of her hairstyle, and we get two views of the white nape of her neck, considered by the Japanese to be a very erotically charged aspect of a woman’s body. She wears a warm winter kimono, and the cartouche is ringed with plum blossoms, so perhaps she is gearing up for a New Year’s celebration or performance.

The title, Modori-kago translates as Returning (“modori”) Palanquin (“kago”) , and refers to the tokiwazu-style music of the Kabuki piece “Modori-kago ironi aikata”. This work first performed in 1788 at the Edo Nakamura-za as the season’s first performance and featured Nakamura Nakazo-o, who returned to Edo after three years in Osaka.  It was a dance with tokiwazu chanting  and was designed for him to play the lead role. In the piece, two palanquin carriers, one from Osaka, another from Edo, and a passenger--a kamuro, (a young  geisha-in-training) exchange stories about the pleasure quarters of Shimabara and Yoshiwara. 

The text of the chanting book is open next to her, carrying the title “Collection of Practicing” 稽古尽くし”, on which the green bundle cover carries the crest of Tokiwazu School, matsu-kawa-bishi, diamond variety of pine bark and the artist’s signature.  Tokiwazu is a type of joruri, narrative music, and is an accompaniment to dancing on the kabuki stage. Perhaps she is learning the shamisen portion of the piece.  Provenance: With the circular seal of the collector Huguette Beres, verso. Untrimmed uchiwa-e.

Condition: Excellent impression and color; very good condition. Minor wormage lower right corner.
Dimensions: uncut uchiwa-e 
Publisher: Maruya Jimpachi
Signature: Kunimori ga