Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Kabuki Scene, 1894-1899. Oban triptych.
An extraordinary print, in very fine condition. This print is from the very end of Kunichika’s career, a period when ukiyo-e was becoming extinguished as an art form. Under pressure from photography and lithography, Kunichika sought ways to revive the dynamism and possibilities of the print. In several series in the 1890's, inspired by the newly opened Meiji-za theatre, Kunichika designed radical prints on a 'widescreen' format, where one or two characters only dominate the space. These prints show a daring radicalism in design and are among his most important and revered work. The print, especially the right hand figure, shimmers with burnished black lacquer (shomen-zuri) zig-zag designs. Elsewhere the background foliage is shaded (bokashi) and embossed, as are parts of the gowns.
The impression is near perfect, full size and there is little toning or wear. A fine print.