Aoi, from an untitled series of Genji pictures
signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal Toku, Hamadaya (Hamadaya Tokubei of Kiyudo), censor's seals Hama and Magome, and date seal Ne-go (year of the rat , 5th month)
chuban tate-e 10 1/8 by 7 1/8 in., 25.8 by 18.1 cm
During the mid-19th century Japan saw a Prince Genji craze, as an modern adaptation of the 10th century story Genji Monogatari (The Tales of Genji) brought the beloved epic tale back into public view. Though it was the characters and stories from the adaptation, Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji (A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki), that was the impetus for the popularity of the subject, the revival rekindled interest in the original as well.
This composition depicts Lady Aoi, the first wife of Genji, who married her when Aoi was 16 and Genji only 12. Theirs was a troubled marriage as Lady Aoi was in a difficult position with Genji- a precocious, philandering youth. Shortly after she gives birth to Genji's son, Yugiri, she is possessed and thereby killed by Genji's lover, the madly jealous Lady Rokujo.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.21167
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