Tsunetomi: The tragic heroine Umekawa
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Kitano Tsunetomi (1880-1947)

A portrait of the tragic heroine Umekawa in the snow, an illustration for the Bunraku love drama "Meido no hikyaku" (The Courier to Hell), written in 1711 by Chikamatsu Monzaemon.

Series: Dai Chikamatsu zenshû furoku mokuhan (Woodblock printed supplements to the complete works of Chikamatsu)

Seal/signature: Tsunetomi

Engraver: Yamagishi Kazue. Printer: Nishimura Kumakichi

Publisher: Dai Chikamatsu zenshū kankōkai (Society for the Publication of the Complete Works of Chikamatsu)

Date: Taishô 12 (1923)

Size: Vertical Dai-Ôban, 38.8 x 27.4 cm (image), 45 x 29.3 cm (overall)

Excellent impression and colours, with white and silver mica (kirazuri) and gofun white for the snowflakes. Full margins. Paper slightly age-toned, few tiny resp. faint stains. Early edition with the imprint in bottom margin naming carver and printer. One of the most outstanding prints of the series.

For this series of 18 exquisite colour woodblock prints some of the most renowned artists of the time were commissioned to each illustrate a drama by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725). The edition was published on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the playwright’s death, whose influence on the Japanese theatre can only be compared to that of Shakespeare in the West.

Ill. in: Amy Reigle Stephens et al, The new wave, London/Leiden 1993, p. 133, no. 138; Amy Reigle Newland/Hamanaka Shinji, The female image. Tokyo/Leiden, 2000, p. 86, no. 106. Cf. also Honolulu Museum of Art, no. 27071 a.o.; Art Institute of Chicago, no. 1928.608; Smithsonian (Freer/Sackler), no. S2003.8.1086; Waseda no. 201-0373 a.o.