Utagawa Yoshitora

active ca. 1836-1887

Elegant Fan Comparison
(Furyu ogi awase)

signed Yoshitora ga with red artist's seal, publisher's mark of Sawamuraya Seikichi, combined censor and date seal Aratame Mi-hachi (examined, year of the snake [1869], 8th month)

oban tate-e triptych 14 3/4 by 29 5/8 in., 37.5 by 75.3 cm

This print is an example of Genji-e, pictures inspired by the serialized novel, A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji) a modern 'update' based on the 10th century courtly novel, The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) combining with Yokohama-e (pictures of the newly-opened foreigner's port of Yokohama). Mitsuuji, protagonist of the updated Genji, is depicted in the company of four beauties while standing in an interior with a open balcony overlooking the Bay of Tokyo. He directs his attention over his shoulder at the expansive view of the bay dotted with Japanese boats under sail beside moored foreign clipper ships and the landmark Tsukiji Hotel on the waterfront. Mitsuuji rests his arm on the top rail of a black lacquered Chinese chair, while one of his companions is seated upright in another and the three remaining beauties kneel Japanese-style on the tatami mats. The deep indigo fusuma panels in the background decorated with an elegant scattering of open folding fans, and the black lacquer balustrade are recognizable details identifying the location as the famous Fan Room (Ogi no Ma) of the Gankiro house- the largest brothel in the Miyozaki licensed pleasure quarters in Yokohama. The Gankiro catered to both Japanese and foreign customers in segregated areas of the two-story building which featured an interior courtyard with an arched bridge that was used as a stage for performances by the Gankiro's troupe of young dancers.

Julia Meech-Pekarik, The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization, 1986, pp. 32-33 (on Gankiro)
Andreas Marks, Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, p. 182-183, no. 181 Appendix I, p. 276, G494
(inv. no. 10-5233)

price: $1,500


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site last updated
October 21, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475