Kuniyoshi: Chapter 25, Hotaru (Fireflies);
Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Title: Chapter 25, Hotaru (Fireflies);
Series: Ukiyo-e Comparisons of the Cloudy Chapters of Genji (Genji kumo ukiyo-e awase)
Komae in the shape of a handscroll on the top shows a chapter from “Genji Monogatari,” along with a waka poem that relates to the chapter. Below is the mitate (comparison picture), and the text of the historical background. Tamiya Iemon with his servant Akiyama Chôbei and the ghost of his murdered wife O-Iwa. The depiction of the wife as a ghost is quite unusual; she is depicted as normal, feet and all, but a shadowy skeleton leans over her shoulder. She seems to carry a special box that is echoed in the cartouche above. This work is in unusually fine condition. The Tenpô Reforms were in full swing here, and Kuniyoshi’s prodigious imagination allowed him to create actor portraits that were cloaked as classic stories (as here), but that the audience would have happily been able to recognize.
Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Publisher: Iseya Ichibei
Literature: Robinson S45.25
Seal: Censor’s: Murata Heiemon (single seal 1842-46)
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga