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Kunisada II
Utagawa Kunisada II, 1823-1880
The Life of the Buddha in Up-to-date Magic Lantern Slides
(Shaka hasso ki imayo utushi-e)

signed Kunisada ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal Bun, Tsujiokaya, Yokoyamacho, Sanchome (Tsujiokaya Bunsuke of Kinshodo), combined censor and date seal Saru-roku, aratame (year of the monkey [1860], 6th month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 10 in., 36.8 by 25.4 cm
The Shaka hasso ki imayo utushi-e (The Life of the Buddha in Up-to-date Magic Lantern Slides) series depicts scenes inspired by the life of the Buddha, based on the serialized novel The Eight Lives of Shakyamuni, a Japanese Library (Shaka hasso Yamato bunko), published in installments 1845-1871. The front and back covers (which form diptychs) of the booklets were designed by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), while the text was accompanied by illustrations by his student, Kunisada II, who also designed the prints for this oban series. The novel and related print series present episodes from the life of the Buddha including stories from his life as Prince Siddhartha and that of his disciples, frequently as compared to scenes of everyday Edo period life set in the pleasure quarters.
The print depicts Prince Siddhartha accompanied by a beautiful woman and young girl, their clothing indicating that this a courtesan with her kamuro (child assistant), standing atop a pale dragon rising from the water. Barely visible beneath the waves are armored fish-headed warriors. The composition appears to relate to the booklet covers designed by Kunisada for volume 30 which was published in 1854.
price: Sold

Vol. 30 cover designed by Kunisada, 1854