Kunichika, 36 Tokyo Restaurants Compared With Geisha 2

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Thirty-six Tokyo Restaurants Compared with Geishas (Tokyo Sanjuroku Kaiseki) #2, 1871. Oban.

This fine print is from a series made in 1878 comparing popular geisha with Tokyo restaurants. Although kabuki formed the major part of an ukiyo-e artist’s commissions, they were not above taking commissions from other patrons such as restaurants as in this case. This series borrows heavily from  his early series The First Mists of Spring both in design and composition but also in the delicately shaded background of leaves. The square panel at top left shows either speciality dishes or views from the eatery. The panel on the right gives the name of the girl and her address. Each of the prints shows the identical textile pattern in the upper diagonal and delicately shaded floral or arboreal patterns in the left hand section.

The series was published by Yorozu-ya Magobei. This a very beautiful print, the woman is finely drawn and the piece is alive with colour, incident and embossing. In extremely good condition, the print is full size with margins, fine colour and excellent impression.

A copy of this print is in the MFA Boston.