Kunisada, Princess Wakana From Shiranui Monogatari

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Princess Wakana from Shiranui Monogatari, 1864. Oban diptych.

The yellow eyes, the fanged mouth, the eight clawed legs… this all sounds too much like a poster for a horror movie - which in some ways it is. This extraordinary diptych of Princess Wakana enchanting a spider is from the kabuki play Shiranui Monogatari and the conjured spider is indeed quite terrifying.

The play tells the story of the young Princess Wakana whose family are wiped out in a feud with another clan. She is rescued by a kindly spider and given the gift of spider magic. The plot tells of her vendetta to take revenge upon the Kikuchi family who were the cause of her downfall. Kunisada pictures the scene where, disguised as a man, Wakana uses the magic of the spider scroll to conjure a gigantic beast to assist her in her fight with Akisaku, a retainer of the Kikuchi.

This is a splendid and bold piece, deliberately outrageous and shocking, and skillfully executed. The colour and impression here are very good; there is some slight creasing but otherwise fine condition.

14” x 18.5”