Kuniyoshi: Tokiwa Gozen with Camellias (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Title: Tokiwa Gozen in the Snow with Camellias
Series:  Mirror of Women of Wisdom and Courage (Kenyu fujo kagami) 賢勇婦女鏡.
Date: Ca. 1843-44

Portrait of Tokiwa-gozen 常盤御前, snapshotted from the most famous scene from her life. Lady Tokiwa was Minamoto no Yoshitomo’s favorite concubine, and was the mother of Yoshitsune, one of the most legendary warriors of the Heian period. When Yoshitomo was killed in a battle with the Taira, she fled into the mountains of Yamato Province with her children in a snowstorm. She was a favorite subject of Kuniyoshi, who often portrayed her on her journey in the snow with her children glimpsed beneath her robes. Here we see one child peeking out from beneath her traveling hat, hands to his mouth in excitement. The camellia, a winter-blooming flower, is an appropriate choice for this snowy context. 

Kuniyoshi devoted several series to women who were strong and heroic in their own right, which was certainly a departure from the norm in Edo Period Japan, when laudatory women were generally given the Confucian role of self-sacrifice. A refreshing portrait from a refreshing series, the roundel is used to visually indicate the roundness of a Japanese mirror. The cartouche above contains text by Ryukatei Tanekazu. First edition, in exceptional condition.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Exceptional condition; untrimmed and unbacked. 
Dimensions: ôban (37.5 x 25.8 cm)
Publisher: Takahashi-ya Takakichi
Literature: Robinson S29.9, MFA online.
Signature: Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga