Kunichika Toyohara, Tale of Genji, The Moon, Night Viewing of Cormorant Fishing
Artist: Kunichika Toyohara (1835-1900)
Title: The Moon, Night Viewing of Cormorant Fishing
Series title: Genji in the Present Style（今様源氏の内）
Publisher: Mikawaya Tetsugoro
Size: (L)35.8 x 24.2 (C)35.7 x 25.1 (R)35.8 x 25.3 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), the subject of Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji was imagined and reimagined countless times. In both archaic and contemporary forms, the story had been relocated from the old capital of Kyoto to the new audience Edo. A key proponent to the reinvigoration of this classic tale was the extremely popular serialisation of Ryutei Tanehiko's (1783-1842) illustrated book False Murasaki and a Rural Genji, a loose adaptation that interwove contemporary culture to the original plot.
|Artist Name||Kunichika Toyohara|
|Title||The Moon, Night Viewing of Cormorant Fishing|
|Subject||Male & Female, Kimono Design, Animal & Birds|
|Dimensions||(L)35.8 x 24.2 (C)35.7 x 25.1 (R)35.8 x 25.3 cm|
|Condition Report||Slightly worn-out, creases, tears on the right panel.|
One of the last great masters of ukiyo-e, Kunichika was inspired by the plays, actors and customs of kabuki theatre. His colourful prints are records of a long lost, decadent underworld of Edo. As a young man, he studied with the ukiyo-e artist Chikanobu, from whom he received his artist name. He then apprenticed under Kunisada and began to produce actor prints in the Utagawa style, though he never used the Utagawa name. Unlike most artists of the period, he made use of strong reds and dark purples, often as background colours, rather than the softer colours that had previously been used. These new colours were made of aniline dyes imported in the Meiji period from Germany. When portraying people he only occasionally showed figures wearing Western dress, despite its growing popularity in Japan. He is also one of the best known artists to have designed a great number of prints featuring tattoos, a genre made popular earlier in Edo period by Kuniyoshi Utagawa.