Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Comic Print of Life Kanji, 1847 - 1852. Oban Diptych.
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Kuniyoshi’s comic drawings and prints are among the rarest and therefore the most collectible of all his prints. This is an astonishingly good find, phenomenally rare and in fantastic condition. A gigantic three dimensional kanji for longevity, life or soul (depending on interpretation) lies across both sheets of the diptych. Around it a couple of dozen townspeople are busily engaged in various activities that might foster or encourage the 'magic' kanji to bestow good fortune. Some people are trying to tie the symbol down, to attain and capture life as it were. Elsewhere, several men are washing and scrubbing it - the man at the top has a water dipper whilst below him are men with brushes and a man fetching water in a pail. In the left sheet a small group are attempting to catch bits of life - small versions of the kanji in fishing nets, and an archer, even, is trying to hunt life down and have it for himself. At the top left a hedonist, seemingly, is excitedly using life as a slide.
It is a really outstanding print this, witty, unusual and very rare indeed. These comical and satiric prints by Kuniyoshi reveal a great deal about his character… that is, Kuniyoshi the animal lover, the moralist, the humanist and the wit. These aspects of his nature are often obscured in the genre pieces of actors and warriors where the subject matter and the demands of hungry publishers tend to dominate.
The print is full size, in very fine condition, the colour and impression are all fine.
Published by Shimidzu-ya Naojiro.
51cm x 38cm.