Ashiyuki, Nakamura Matsue III as Akoya in Dan-no-Ura Kabuto Gunki

Gigado Ashiyuki (active 1813 - 1833) Nakamura Matsue III as Akoya in the Play Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki, 1829. Oban triptych.

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A superb… really superb actually, Ashiyuki triptych from 1829. Unrecorded in its complete state, one sheet is known from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This copy is very unevenly trimmed top and bottom but we have shown as much of the piece as possible. It is in any case oversized and bursts with lightness, with colour and with energy. There is so much to admire in this exuberant dance piece. The play is almost certainly Akoya, and was originally written for the puppet theatre. Only the one scene survives in which Akoya is the courtesan lover of Kagekiyo who is on the run and in hiding. She is hauled before the court and threatened with torture to reveal the whereabouts of her lover. When she refuses, three instruments of torture are brought to the stage yet she still refuses. Next, three musical instruments are brought on and the official, Shigetada, demands that she play them. She performs three songs about her love of Kagekiyo so beautifully that Shigetada is convinced that someone who sings so movingly could not also be a liar. The play ends with him confronting the evil torturer Munetsura.

Spectacular, stylised clouds roll across the sky, reminiscent of a railway poster of the thirties in their brevity and modernity. The palace precinct forms an uneven background to these extraordinary and mobile figures. Matsue II, shown on the left hand sheet is particularly striking. As with so much of this rare and collectible artist’s work, the colours and the patterns seem to have a wholly original and unique quality, quite different from the usual tightness of the Osaka School.

A great print, the colours and impression are outstanding, the condition of the sheets is very good but there are obvious issues with the uneven trimming.

Published by Shohonya Seishichi (Honsei).

76 x 39 cm.