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Yoshitoshi
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World: Murai Teikichi; Suzuki Mondo
(Azuma no nishiki ukiyo kodan: Murai Teikichi; Suzuki Mondo)

signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu, with artist's seal Kiri, publisher's seal Kinkyu (Omiya Kyujiro of Kiyudo), and combined censor and date seal U-ju, aratame (year of the hare [1867], 10th lunar month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 3/4 by 10 in., 37.5 by 25.4 cm
Suzuki Mondo is the titular subject of the kabuki play Suzuki Mondo from a story retold by Murai Teikichi II (1841-1910). In the play, Mondo is played in wagoto (gentle style). Such a character would be a refined young gallant, as opposed to the gruff and macho aragoto types. The wagoto hero tended to find themselves hopelessly in love an unobtainable beauty (typically a courtesan whose freedom he could not afford to buy). Such tales would often end with the lovers running off together and committing shinju (lovers' suicide). In Suzuki Mondo, the samurai squanders all his money on the beautiful Shiraito, bringing ruin to his family.
The series Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World (Azuma no hana ukiyo kodan) illustrates episodes of stories as paraphrased in the descriptive cartouches by the writer Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894). Robun was the son of a fishmonger who partnered with the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) to set up shop as a literary subcontractor. He wrote comic fiction and supplied texts for ukiyo-e, and became a frequent contributor to woodblock prints. Published jointly by seven different publishers, the series title includes a pun of the word 'kodan' which phonetically means 'story-telling,' but the first of the two characters is here substituted by one that means 'rough draft' or 'manuscript,' thus emphasizing Robun's abbreviation of the tales. The subjects depicted are from folklore, kabuki theater, and novels, and the names of the storytellers follow the series title in the red oblong cartouche in the shape of a page-turner. Robun's texts are inscribed on the pages of a folded book.
Published:
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 20
References:
Peter Duus, 'Japan's First Manga Magazine,' in Impressions, no. 21, 1999, pp. 31-32 (re: Robun)
Amy Reigle Newland & Chris Uhlenbeck, Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Fries Collection, 2011, pp. 89-90
Yuriko Iwakiri, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiyo 196), 2012, pp. 60, 286
Samuel L. Leiter, Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theater, 2014, p. 276
MFA, Boston, accession no. 11.37761
price: Sold