Hirosada, Snow at Yoshiwara - Urazato

Gosotei Hirosada (ca.1810 - 1864) Edo, Snow at Yoshiwara: Urazato, 1850’s Chuban diptych.

Osaka theatre prints are exceptional in their jewel-like brilliance and the sophistication of their design and technical skill. This Hirosada triptych is no exception. A masterpiece of design, the composition and arrangement of colours is strikingly modern. The surface shimmers with burnished blacks and the delicate interplay of greys and whites. The sinuous figures of the four players and the cherry tree, held in place by the tight architectural grid of the buildings float against the overall pattern of the snow flakes and there is the startling vertical black edge that separates the left hand panel from the rest of the composition.

The story concerns the prostitute Urazato who has had a child by the samurai Tokijiro. Tokijiro has fallen on hard times and cannot buy her out of her brothel - we see him here in the exquisite left hand panel, climbing a cherry tree, snow cascading, his sword at his side. His lover occupies the centre panel; she has been tied to a tree as punishment for attempting to flee and the brothel owner in the right panel is beating her with a broom; her kamuro (young assistant) is trying to stop him. Tokijiro later cuts her free and they escape only to commit suicide together in despair at their circumstances. The piece is a dance rather than a full play and is called ‘Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu’.

The print may commemorate the premiere of the play at the Ichmuraza theatre in January 1852. Three unattached panels, not backed and full size. Very good colour and fine impression in excellent condition.