Kuniyoshi, Portrait of Okoyo

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Portrait of Okoyo, 1844. Oban.

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This is a very lovely print from a series that I fear I cannot track down. The print is a portrait of a doomed young girl called Okoyo. She is pictured at night… see the beloved bats of Kuniyoshi flitting above her head, walking over the Adzuma Bridge.

A nobleman, Genzaburo, is walking over the Adzuma Bridge when he sees a beautiful girl, Okoyo. He asks the shoe repairer, Chokichi who the girl is and Chokichi tells his superior that  the girl is an Eta; a member of an untouchable servant class. It was more or less forbidden for a nobleman to have relations with Eta and the story unfolds with predictable tragedy on all sides.  The unfolding of the tale involving other protagonists is complex but the outcome predictable; Genzburo is banished and his property is confiscated, Okoyo and her Eta father are also banished, Chokichi is murdered and his murderer executed.

The series is probably one depicting troubled or tragic women. The print is lovely, a fine mid-period Kuniyoshi Bijin subject. Colour, impression and condition are all fine.

24.5 x 37.5 cm.