Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Thirty Six Good and Evil Beauties: Woman Writing, 1873. Oban.
The Thirty-six Good and Evil Beauties is probably Kunichika’s finest large series and certainly the best bijin series of his career. The quality of the printing is outstanding, the drawing is fluid and original and the designs bristle with invention and startling use of colour and pattern. Each print from the series takes a famous woman of history and portrays her beneath a cartouche explaining her story. Some of these characters are warlike, some evil and vain and some are pious or devoted. What is interesting historically is how Kunichika presents women as individuals and not archetypes. This is at variance to the traditional bijin portraits of pliable or available females and chimes with Yoshitoshi’s series on similar themes such as Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners from 1888.
This is a superb print in very fine condition from the first edition. The deep blue of the background is sprinkled with mica and there is deep embossing to the collar of the under robes. Full size with margins, colour, impression and state all very fine.
Published by Fukuda Kumajiro.
37cm x 25.5cm.