Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) Mitate Hana Awase: Onoe Tamizo II with Paulownia, 1861. Deluxe Chuban.
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A very beautiful and superbly preserved Yoshitaki. Unknown, although from a series of which one other print is known. The picture shows the actor Onoe Tamizo II in the lower right of the frame. This is an early Yoshitaki design (his first known designs appeared around 1854) and is unusual in its division of the composition into four sections. Half-lengths of the actors appear diagonally, one above the other. They are not named, due to the lingering effects of the Tenpo Reforms, which effectively suppressed actor print production for five years, 1842-47, and made publishers so cautious that they omitted the names of actors on prints for roughly a decade thereafter. (John Fiorillo) .
The panel at the lower left is inscribed with the role names. The section at the top right includes the artist's signature and an inscription reading mitate hana awase ("A Comparison of Flowers").
The illustration in the top right panel depicts the Paulownia tree… the mitate referred to in the title. The series will have set out to compare actor roles to the attributes of a variety of flowering trees and plants. This enabled aspects of the actor and the role to be alluded to without directly naming them.
I assume that the play alluded to here may well be Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura, in which Tamizo II appeared in 1859, hence the significance of the flower - the paulownia being the crest of the Imperial family. The print is richly decorated and is in very fine condition.
Published by Kinoyasu.
18 x 24.5 cm.