Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido Road #26: Kintaro, 1852/53. Oban.
A very lovely Kuniyoshi print featuring the young Kintaro (Kintoki or Kaidomaru) from one of Kuniyoshi’s outstanding series, The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido Road. There was a frenzy of travel-based print series around the mid-century, initially as artists tried to avoid the censorship that hampered their work, but later series enjoyed playing with the idea of dividing series up in this narrative format. In this great series, Kuniyoshi takes the 69 rest stations along the inland highway that connects Kyoto with Edo (Tokyo). The coastal route was the Tokaido Road. Instead of using actors as subjects, Kuniyoshi here used historic or legendary figures that may have had a connection with the relevant village or station.
In this print of Mochizuki Station, Kuniyoshi illustrates the young Kintoki, golden skinned as usual, playing in his forest home. There is a persistent fantasy for the wild, foundling child… bought up by beasts and of enormous strength, that permeates every culture. As with Romulus and Remus, or Tarzan, the boy has a supernatural quality and a close connection with wild animals, in this case monkeys and rabbits. In this print Kintaro with his animal companions is attempting to snare a small tengu in an upper branch - tengu being winged, forest dwelling demons with long noses. The beautiful background has the appearance of a waterfall with trees in front. The left hand cartouche in the shape of an axe head is a view of the mountain station of Mochizuki and the title-block cartouche on the left has a charming border showing a child’s rocking horse and rabbit - allusions to the boyhood of the subject.
A really great print with very fine impression and colour and in fine condition aside from some trimming to the right edge, slight centre-fold.
Published by Hayashi-ya Shogoro.
35.5 x 24 cm.