Yoshitoshi 芳年: The Ghost of Seigen haunting Sakurahime

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 芳年 (1839-1892)
Title: The Ghost of Seigen haunting Sakurahime
Series: “New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts”
Date: 1889

Sakurahime, “Cherry Princess”, was a famous courtesan, considered the most beautiful woman of her time. Seigen was the abbot of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. They fell violently in love, with tragic consequences, as they were from conflicting strata of society. In the scandal Seigen was expelled from the temple and was killed by Sakurahime’s outraged servant. In this print, based on the kabuki play “Sakurahime”, Seigen’s ghost appears almost as a wood-grain pattern on the sliding door behind her. The ghost appears as a hazy shape on the sliding door behind her, emerging eerily from the smoke billowing up from the fire lower left. Her gown is decorated with cherry blossoms, which usually indicate the transience of life. There were a number of stories that were based on variations of the tragic story of these doomed lovers, and Yoshitoshi designed a stunning vertical diptych that illustrated Seigen clutching the empty robe of Sakurahime.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Unbacked and untrimmed.
Dimensions: ôban (36.5 x 25 cm)
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Literature: See “Yoshitoshi’s Thirty-Six Ghosts” by Stevenson, plate v, page 278.
Seal: Taiso; Engraver: Enkatsu
Signature: Yoshitoshi