Kuniyoshi 国芳: Original Preparatory Of Horse and Thrown Rider, Intended for the 53 Parallels of thdrawingse Tokaido Road Series (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Original Preparatory Of Horse and Thrown Rider, Intended for the 53 Parallels of the Tokaido Road Series
Date: ca late 1840s

We see a horse kicking up its forelegs, throwing its rider to the ground, one of its reins hanging loose above the hand of the thrown man. A second man in the background holds his hands up in a gesture of surprise. This work seems to have been planned for the series “53 Parallels for the Tokaido Road” which was published around 1845, with about 30 of the works by Kuniyoshi. It is interesting to wonder how the collaborative process for a large series like this worked; did each artist propose his designs, or were they assigned specific stations and then each came up with designs for approval? Regarding this drawing, there are no hints as to the station nor to the associated story. In the finished series there are no works that feature horses on land, although there is a design with a swimming horse. Here the horse’s back leg has been redrawn a couple of times. Kuniyoshi seems to have employed several different sketching techniques; one where he uses long and confident strokes that he redraws on the page until he is satisfied with the final lines, and a second technique that is demonstrated here, where he uses short strokes that seem close to his final idea from the get-go, perhaps drawing more slowly. Provenance: Thomas Stauffer Collection to the dealer Merlin Dailey. The Thomas Stauffer collection reportedly contained eight Kuniyoshi drawings albums via the dealer Bing. Other Kuniyoshi albums are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijskmuseum 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: 26.9 x 22.4 cm

Condition: Excellent condition overall. Unmounted, on the original thin Japanese sketching paper.

Reference:  Although this work is unpublished, these books are highly recommended: M. Forrer, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology Leiden; The Hague,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.