Kuniyoshi 國芳: Monster Spirit of the Cat Stone from the Scene at Okazaki (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 國芳 (1797-1861)
Title: Gojusan-tsugi no uchi [Okazaki no ba] 五拾三次之内 [岡崎の場] (From the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road: Scene at Okazaki)
Date: 1847

An enormous monster cat apparition overpowers the haunted setting of a lonely inn at Okazaki on the Tokaido road. The cat monster is being conjured by the old woman with cat ears and paws, Neko-ishi-no-kai, the Spirit of the Cat Stone, played by Onoe Kikugoro III, center.  She holds a teeth-blackening brush in her paw and sits before a type of red flame and a jar of blackening compound, two cats with head kerchiefs dancing on their hind paws by her side. We see an image of a cat lapping up the lamp oil on the lantern, another indication of ghostly activity. The terrifying monster cat glares at the viewer with piercing yellow eyes, shown at the moment of breaking through some tattered reed blinds. The protagonists who are about to subdue the monster are seen left and right. Right is  Shirasuga Juemon, played by Mimasu Gennosuke ,I who here removes his basket hat to confront the witch. Left is Inabanosuke, played by Ichimura Uzaemon XII, holding an unsheathed sword in his right hand. This particular version portrays a scene from "Onoe Kikugorô ichidai banashi" (The Lifetime of Onoe Kikugorô III), a retirement performance reprising various kabuki scenes and roles performed by Onoe Kikugorô III during his career. This is one of the strongest designs from this very popular performance, as it brings together so many of  Kuniyoshi’s strengths, especially his virtuosity with feline subjects.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Untrimmed and unbacked. Very good condition, as there are some repaired wormholes.
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei

Literature: See “Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection” by Timothy Clark (2009), page 226, number 106. See “Yokai: Strange Beasts & Weird spectres: 100 Japanese Triptychs” Published by Shinbacku, edited by Ringo Yoshida (2018); page 12. See British Museum, Chazen and MFA

Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga     Size: Oban triptych (each approx 39.3 x 26 cm)