Yoshitaki, A Scene from Meiboku Sendaihagi

Utagawa Yoshitaki (1841 - 1899) A Scene from Meiboku Sendaihagi, 1860's. Chuban diptych.

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A pleasing Yoshitaki diptych of two actors, Arashi Rikan on the left, in Act I of the play; Meiboku Sendaihagi. The events portrayed in this play are based on actual events of the seventeenth century. The story of the Date clan and the palace intrigues around them was so popular that the play was performed every year from the mid 1700’s onwards. Normally the most popular scenes are those that relate the story of the evil magician Nikki Danjo and his efforts to steal a rare scroll. This entails his dramatic transformation into a rat in the final explosive scene.

The fictionalised central story of this part involved Lord Ashikaga Yorikane’s murder of the courtesan Takao. This episode is a dramatisation of an actual incident in which the young clan leader Date Tsunamune became the lover of the Yoshiwara courtesan Takao, causing a scandal that led to his downfall.

In this act, Yorikane has fallen in love with the courtesan Takao and has neglected his responsibilities, causing high-ranking retainers to plot the takeover of his domain. Returning from the pleasure quarters, he is attacked at Hanamizu Bridge, but is able to escape.

In the next scene, called the Takaomaru Boat, Yorikane is entertaining Takao on the Takaomaru, a boat which he has named in her honour. He plans to buy out her contract and have her live with him, but while he takes a nap, a loyal servant convinces Takao to finish with Yorikane for his family's sake, and so when he reappears, she says there is someone else in her life and her affair with Yorikane to date has been a deception. Enraged and humiliated, he stabs and kills her.

This is a fine Yoshitaki. It may be from a series of diptychs. The two sheets are full size, with margins, unbacked and in very good condition. There is burnishing to the deep blacks and embossing; the colour and impression are both fine.

37 x 26 cm.