Kunisada II Utagawa, Tale of Genji, Chapter 54

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JG011875-26
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Artist: Kunisada II Utagawa (1823-1880)
Title: Chapter 54, Yume no Ukihashi
Series: The Tale of Genji 54 Chapters
Date: 1850-1899
Size: 24.0 x 36.1 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Kunisada II Utagawa, Tale of Genji, japanese woodblock print, kimono
Kunisada II Utagawa, Tale of Genji, japanese woodblock print, kimono Kunisada II Utagawa, Tale of Genji, japanese woodblock print, kimono

‘The Tale of Genji’ (Genji Monogatari) is a full-length Japanese novel written by Murasaki Shikibu, a talented aristocratic female poet from the Fujiwara clan in the middle of the Heian era (794 to 1185). Consisting of 54 chapters in trilogy, it is a biographical tale of the main character Prince Genji and his descendants after his death, which continues for 70 years, with 500 castings and more or less 800 poems. It recounted Prince Genji’s involvement with ladies of the court, but it was more than just a romantic love story of high society. It was a psychological insight into the principles of human life, being read by enlightened and educated nobles in the Imperial Court. ‘The Tale of Genji’ is now considered to be a Japanese classic masterpiece and one of the most influential work of literature in history. It has also been translated in numerous foreign languages since.

In the Edo period (1603-1868), ‘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. The text of Tanehiko’s Genji was illustrated by renowned artist Kunisada and the series achieved enormous commercial success, giving birth to a whole new genre in the world of woodblock prints: genji-e (pictures of Genji).

In 'The Tale of Genji 54 Chapters' series, Kunisada II presents all fifty-four chapters of 'The Tale of Genji' through iconic scenes.

Toyokuni IV Utagawa (Kunisada II)


Kunisada II was the pupil of prolific ukiyo-e artist Toyokuni III (Kunisada I) and went on to become head of the Utagawa school. He produced over 40 series, mainly depicting actors. He also published beauty, shunga and literature inspired prints, working in the style of his master but never quite achieving the same level of success. While illustrating over 200 books, his most celebrated actor series was "The Tale of the Eight Dog Heroes". However, his popularity began to wain in the Meiji period and ceased making prints in 1874.
More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistToyokuni IV Utagawa (Kunisada II)
SubjectBeauty & Female, Male & Female, Kimono Design
Dimensions24.0 x 36.1 cm
Condition ReportTrimmed. Light soiling.
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