Hirosada, Arashi Rikaku II and Nakamura Daikichi in Hana Ikada

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Arashi Rikaku II as Yamanaka Shikanosuken and Nakamura Daikichi as Okatsu in Hana Ikada, 1850. Deluxe Chuban Diptych.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

This is a splendid, albeit frustrating print. Only the left hand side is known; that depicting the character Okatsu. It is quite special to have this print with the unknown right-hand sheet that portrays her brother Yamanaka Shikanosuken. The plot of the play, The Courtesan and the Flower Raft, appears relatively unknown also; the print however, shines. The pious Okatsu prays beneath a flowering cherry, meanwhile Yamanaka Shikanosuken approaches, sword drawn.

It is a magnificent design and composition. The cherry tree dominates, uniting both sheets. Hirosada has stylised the blossoms and the hanging branches and they form a kind of decorative architecture over the whole scene. Meanwhile the ominous presence of the male figure is further underlined by the storm clouds that are stylised on his coat, tied all around with that great black, velvety trimming. It’s a masterpiece of a print… Osaka, and Hirosada especially, at his best. Technically, the print is very fine, the dramatic bokashi shading of the background makes a superb deep and brooding spatial backdrop to the scene… and that extraordinary blue of the trunk which of course, defies description.

Full size, colour, impression and condition are all fine.