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Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) (1786-1865)
The dancing Wisteria girl, Fuji Musume, and the monkey holding the hyôtan gourd bottle and riding the Namazu catfish. Nakamura Fukusuke I is portrayed in this animated scene in both roles - as musume and monkey - in the dance piece "Funa Torite Megumi no Ôtsu-e". The actors in this piece impersonated the popular characters from the folk "pictures from Ôtsu". The dance was part of a stage performance of the Chûshingura drama at the Morita Theatre in the 10th month of 1857.
Title: Fujimusume - Hyôtan-Namazu
Signature: Toyokuni ga, in Toshidama cartouche
Publisher: Hayashiya Shôgorô, Edo
Date: 1857, 10th month
Size: Vertical Ôban, 36.1 x 25.1 cm
Excellent impression and colours. Usual pigment oxidation in the orange-red. Unbacked. Minimally trimmed at top. One inconspicuous wormhole in the wisteria bough. Verso some small paper thinnings in top and left margins, verso paper remnants of prior corner hinging. Overall very nice condition.
A rare print, originally published within a set of three prints with the title "Ôtsu-e shosa no uchi" (Dance of the characters from the Ôtsu-pictures). All three prints only at Nichibunken, Folklore Illustrations Database, NewDietLibrary YR/5/Ut. This print cf. MFA Boston, Bigelow Coll., 11.39044; Waseda 006-3714.
For the monkey on the catfish cf.: Albrecht and Gisela Rabitz, When the namazu shakes its body. Japanese catfish prints published after the Ansei quake in 1855. In: Andon 88, Leiden 2010, esp. p. 21 ff. The performance of this piece took place exactly two years after the devastating Ansei earthquake in the 10th month of 1855.