Kuniyoshi, Saving of the Kimono

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Saving of the Kimono, from the play Koi (goro mo) Karigane Zome, 1852. Oban triptych.

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This is a fine and well regarded triptych by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Copies of this print are in the Harvard University Library Collection and the British Museum, London. The print shows a scene from the kabuki play Koi (goro mo) Karigane zome, specifically the section that deals with the nun Onna Seigen. The hero Matsuwaka is reported dead and his fiancee Hanako is so distraught that she becomes a nun (taking the name Seigen) to mourn for him. Later, she meets her sister’s fiance who resembles Matsuwaka (and is Matsuwaka passing himself off as his younger twin in order to search for a lost scroll). Upon learning of the deception, Seigen turns to evil.

Here we see Onna Seigen in the centre recognising Matsuwaka on the right in the act of retrieving a lost kimono. Iwai Kunesaburo plays Onna Seigen, Danjuri VIII as Matsuwaka.

This is a great design of two traditional ferry boats on the Sumida River. Colour and impression are very fine, the condition is good with some printer’s flaws to the sky, and a small amount of damage to the lower left corner.

Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga and gourd shaped Yoshi cartouche. Published by Minatoya Kohei.

Each sheet 24.75  x 36.2 cm; left and centre panels attached.