This site requires that you enable Javascript to function properly Scholten Japanese Art | Woodblock Prints | Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) Assortment of Ladies for His Lordship, an Imaginary Scene
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Kunisada (Toyokuni III)
Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Assortment of Ladies for His Lordship, an Imaginary Scene
(Tonoko mitate hime soroe)

signed Toyokuni ga within artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal Kinkyu (Omiya Kyujiro of Kiyudo), carver's seal Horiko Masa (Matsushima Masakichi), censor and date seal Hitsuji-ju, Aratame (year of the goat [1859], 10th month, examined)
oban tate-e triptych 29 1/8 by 14 3/8 in., 74 by 36.6 cm
This composition features recognizable portraits of the actors Onoe Kikujiro II (1769-1787), Ichikawa Ichizo III (1833-1865), Ichikawa Shinsha I (Ichikawa Monnosuke, 1821-1878) in the right sheet; Sawamura Tanosuke III (1854-1878), Nakamura Fukusuke I (Nakamura Shikan IV, 1831-1899), Onoe Kikugoro IV (1808-1860) in the center sheet, and Iwai Kumesaburo III (Iwai Hanshiro VIII, 1829-1882), and Kawarazaki Gonnosuke VI (1814-1868) in the left sheet.
The figure on the raised platform in the center sheet is meant to represent Mitsuuji, the main character from the popular Nise Murasaki inaka Genji (A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki), an adaptation of the classic 11th century novel Genji Monogatari (The Tales of Genji) written by Ryutei Tanehiko (1783-1842). The mid-19th century featured a Genji craze. There developed a huge market for scenes from the story and its kabuki adaptations. When those designs proved insufficient to sate the public's wild demand, artists experimented with putting Mitsuuji in different settings and scenes. Popular characters (and the actors who portrayed them in well-known productions) were placed in novel contexts or relations with one another, often with little or no connection to the story.
References:
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, pp. 205-212 (on imgainative Genji scenes)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, (mfa.org), accession nos. 11.29807, 11.45285a-b
price: $ 800