Kunisada, 24 Filial Paragons in Japan - Nakamura Shikan IV as Yokozo

Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) Twenty-four filial paragons in Japan (Honcho nijushiko) Nakamura Shikan IV as Yokozo, 1861. Deluxe oversize oban.

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This is an outstanding and quite breathtaking print by Kunisada. This is a very rare design and extremely unusual to find it untrimmed and in such astonishing condition. Everything about the print shimmers with brilliance… the colours are richly printed and deeply hued, the background is scattered with mica and there is embossing to the surface of the paper. As a design, the drawing is some of the best of Kunisada’s late and highly accomplished work. There is real genius in the use of the red woodgrains on the painted and articulated skin of the actor. What makes the design nearly unique is the printed border around the outside of the main image. This is one of the stand-out prints of the mid century… in this print, Kunisada brings together the realism and insightfulness of character that are so important to the dekiyo-e of the period. He combines this with virtuoso drawing and inspired block cutting by Yokogawa Iwa.

The play Digging up Bamboo Shoots was written in the late eighteenth century and deals with honour and duty between members of a family. Brothers are pitted against each other in a fight over strategic plans and military secrets. In a complicated twist, Yokozo (played here by Nakamura Shikan IV ) cuts out his own eye in order to prevent his head being used as a substitute for someone else whom he closely resembles.

Colour, impression and condition are all really outstanding; this is a a very fine piece indeed.

Published by Yamaguchi.

38cm x 26cm