Yoshiiku, The Funanorikomi Boat Procession

Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) The Funanorikomi Boat Procession, c. 1863. Oban  Triptych.

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What a fantastic print, a spectacular, decorative triptych with superb colour, crisp impression and wonderful condition… it feels as though it was made yesterday! The print portrays the Funanorikomi Boat Procession, a tradition that began in Kyoto where devotion to kabuki actors was hysterical and more devotional even than in Edo. In essence, the actors hired for the new season at the kabuki theatres would dress in their costumes and make up and process in large boats down river. The tradition quickly spread to Edo; this print shows actors on the Sumida in Tokyo. The tradition continues in Kyoto to this day. 

In the centre sheet for example is the wildly popular Ichimura Uzaemon as Take, the Morning-glory Seller, with his flowers in the tray hung from his shoulder. In the right hand sheet is the standing figure of the monkey trainer Yojiro. In the left sheet is a bunraku puppeteer and so on. This is a great kabuki triptych; Edo is seen in the background across the river, with the boat uniting the composition. Yoshiiku became a student of Kuniyoshi toward the end of the 1840s. His earliest known work dates to 1852 when he provided the backgrounds to some actor prints by his teacher. Yoshiiku’s earliest works were portraits of actors, beauties, and warriors. He later followed Kuniyoshi into making satirical and humorous pieces, and became the leading name in the field after Kuniyosh's death in 1861.

Colour, impression and condition are all fine.

73 x 37 cm.