Kunisada: Prince Genji and the Evening Glow in the Silver World of Snow (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: The Evening Glow in the Silver World of Snow (Gin-sekai yuki no yubae)
Date: 1854

We see Genji reading at left in his brocaded coat with black collar, in the style of omigoromo, which is a costume wore by the Shogun as indoor leisure attire in Kabuki plays. His hair style is known as Genji-mage or ebi-cha sen mage. He sits in front of a screen decorated with peonies and before him is a red-burning charcoal brazier. In the center sheet Princess Asagao is listening with all respect what he is reading, slightly bending down. She wears a kimono with the flower pattern of morning glories, symbolizing her name. On the right sheet a young woman is busy with rolling a snowball while other women tend to the garden.

The scene refers to the rolling a snowball scene “Yuki kokashi no dô-jo“ in Asagao and Maiden, the 30th Volume of the Nise-Murasaki Inaka Genji  novel, and the text roughly reads: “It is funny to see her, reflected in the moonlight, tucking up her sleeves to eagerly roll up a bigger snowball. When she was small, she was running around  without her obi sash tied, dropping her tissue papers and fan.... When she was not strong enough to roll the snowball alone, she agitated and forgot her hair loosening...She was all in the snow-white garden.” 

Next to the title  is a poem in a stylized snowflake circle that may read: “Hashi kosade kyôha kuretari yuki-marome“, which may translate as: “Today without going out, it is getting dark soon, while rolling snow is in full action”

In the Tale of Genji, Asagao was one of the women with whom Genji was infatuated since he was young. Since she was of noble birth, she was seen as his possible legal wife, which made Lady Murasaki, the virtual wife, feel uneasy. Asagao also had a liking for Genji, but she did not want to be his wife, because she often heard about his many love affairs and what had become of the women who had been involved with him. She kept refusing Genji's courtship, forming a platonic relationship with him, and kept a mere friendship--all the time elegantly exchanging letters whenever there was a chance. Because she had been a Saiin priestess for a long time since the reign of Emperor Suzaku, she missed the chance to get married, remained single, became a nun, then stepped off the center stage of the tale.

In the same year of 1854 Kunisada and Hiroshige published the series “Azuma Genji: yuki no yashiki“ (Genji of the East: Garden in Snow), which shows the outside scene of the same motif. 

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (37.4 x 76.8 cm)
Signature: Toyokuni ga