Kunisada: Prince Genji and Female Abalone Divers Triptych (SOLD)
Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: The Shining Prince Amusing Himself at the Seashore (Watching Abalone Divers at Work)
The Shining Prince Amusing Himself at the Seashore. The “Shining Prince”, Genji, enjoys watching female awabi (abalone) divers at work. He is beautifully dressed, and holds a sake cup, with a variety of dishes arrayed behind him. He has both a female and a male companion; the male attendant at left holds a summer fan with one of the rectilinear crests (Genji-mon) associated with the chapters of the Tales of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu’s 11th century novel. Prince Genji’s attention is focused on the four women who are working to harvest abalone in the rocky area near the intertidal zone. In the harvest boat at left is a woman wearing a robe with a beautiful pattern of sealife. She accepts a large abalone handed to her by one of the divers. Also on the boat is a diver who is pulling back her hair, perhaps preparing to descend into the ocean. The traditional dress for such a difficult and dangerous occupation was only a red skirt. Perhaps most interesting is the diver seen at right, as we are treated to a view of her at work beneath the waves. She is seen holding her breath as she prepares to harvest an abalone from its cavity, using a tool that was used specifically for this purpose. We see small fish amidst seaweed beneath the waves, and the treatment of the water is quite compelling.
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. In upper corners are embossed Japanese collector’s seals. Untrimmed and unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (37.5 x 78 cm)
Signature: Toyokuni ga