Kuniyoshi 国芳: Original Preparatory Drawing of Two Men Plotting, One Man Eavesdropping

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Original Preparatory Drawing of Two Men Plotting, One Man Eavesdropping
Date: ca. late 1840s

Two men seem to be plotting something exciting, their supposedly secret conversation being eavesdropped by a third man at upper right, who listens with interest. The man in the window may be Ichimura Uzaemon XII. This is probably a scene from kabuki, but the exact scene is difficult to pinpoint. Kuniyoshi could draw figures fully clothed in any position with ease; here he has corrected the position of the right arm of the man at left, who seems to be carrying a travel pouch of some kind on his back. The garment of the man at right has been modified to have longer sleeves. Kuniyoshi would begin his ideas for a print with drawings that were rather rough, and would make more important corrections with a pasted-on piece of paper. It seems as though there was a correction here that is no longer with the drawing, and the figure at left may be receiving a parcel from the man at left in the corrected draft. Provenance: The Thomas Stauffer collection, whose collection reportedly contained eight Kuniyoshi drawings albums via the dealer Bing. A US collector purchased this work from the dealer Merlin Dailey, who acquired it from the collection of the Chicago collector Thomas Stauffer. Other Kuniyoshi albums are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum and the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. These collections all are assumed to have originated with the French dealer S. Bing, and some through Emil Javal and then through the dealer Felix Tikotin to the collector Lieftinck. 

Size: 31.3 x 23 cm

Condition: Very good condition overall. On the original thin Japanese paper, unbacked and trimmed into an irregular shape.

Reference:  Although this work is unpublished, these books are highly recommended: M. Forrer, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology Leiden; The Hague, 1988. B.W. Robinson, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - in the collection of Ferd. Lieftinck of Haren, Holland; Groningen, 1953. Fagioli, Utagawa Kuniyoshi: 90 disegni; Firenze, 1985. Fagioli, Kuniyoshi - an appreciation of his drawings; in: ANDON no. 21; 1986.