Yoshitoshi 芳年 : Rustic Genji 田舎源氏 (Lovers on the Moors) (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Title: Rustic Genji 田舎源氏 (Inaka Genji)

Date: 1885

Scene from the Inaka Genji, the Genji-based novel by Ryutei Tanehiko  that was published in serialized form in 1829-1842 and took Edo culture by storm. Yoshitoshi here shows the protagonist Mitsuuji (the updated Genji) and his lover Tasogare as they flee her mother’s supervision to spend the night together in an old temple. Mitsuuji has wrapped a bamboo blind around them to aid their escape; both look out nervously as the wind whips her clothes and kerchief. They are isolated on the desolate moor, surrounded by plume-grass. Their feet form a circle, echoing the circle of the blind; here they must be disoriented as they search for the light of the temple in the distance.

According to the Smithsonian website, “The implicit eroticism of this vertical diptych by Yoshitoshi led to a judgment by Meiji government censors that it was injurious to public morals. One of the objections was that one of Mitsuuji's hands is not visible. The artist is said to have responded that if everything is depicted, the flavor is lost. Despite the controversy it aroused, this print represents a high point in Yoshitoshi's artistic renderings of dramatic scenes in beautiful natural settings imbued with deep lyricism and human emotion.”

We see a cuckoo flying against the patterned storm clouds as streaks of rain begin to fall. A three-quarter moon shines overhead. Beautiful, early edition of this famous design, printed on rather heavy paper. Here the clouds and surroundings all have extra bokashi shading that gives richness and depth to the scene.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Tiny nibble at bottom right corner.
Dimensions: ôban vertical diptych (72 x 24.9 cm)
Publisher: Matsui Eikichi
Literature: Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 458, no. 474. Shinichi Segi, Yoshitoshi the Splendid Decadent, 1985, p. 81, no. 50; Akita Museum of Modern Art, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: The Last Ukiyo-e Artist of Genius, 1999, p. 28, no. 84; Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, p. 153, nos. 144-145; Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 120th Memorial Retrospective, 2012, p. 129, no. 192; Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi, 2014, p. 144, no. 214.
Seal: Yoshitoshi 
Signature: Ôju Yoshitoshi ga