Kunisada, The Great Shrine at Izumo

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) The Great Shrine at Izumo, 1850’s. Oban Triptych.

Click here for a comparison with the Kunihisa.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

This very lively print is at first a great puzzle. In a previous exhibition, we have shown a print that is nearly identical in every respect by the every fine artist Kunihisa II, from 1862. Kunihisa was an important pupil and son-in-law of the great Utagawa Kunisada. Both prints show one of the holiest Shinto shrines in Japan: the Shrine at Izumo. The prints are a kind of potted history, showing the temple precincts, some legends associated with the temple and the votive activities for which it was (and remains) famous. Seated inside the temple are the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu Okami), Okuninushi, the old ruler of Izumo province and a deity himself and Suzeri-Hime, the daughter of Susano-o (The God of storms and the sea). Around them are seated minor deities and assistants engaged in the preparation of fortune-telling scrolls, a practice that continues today. At the front of the print are the visiting pilgrims, travellers and ascetics and the functionaries of the temple. The two prints differ markedly in the external scenes, especially the left hand sheet. In this sheet, Kunihisa has added whirlpools and dragons whereas these are missing from the Kunisada original.

The print is alive with action and incidental detail; Colour, impression and condition are all fine.

Published by Shimizu-ya Tsunejiro.