Toyokuni III Utagawa, Sound and Scent of Spring, Genji-e


Artist: Toyokuni III Utagawa (1786-1865)
Title: Sound and Scent of Spring
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo
Date: 1847-1852
Size: (L) 24.3 x 35.3, (C) 25.0 x 35.3, (R) 24.6 x 35.5 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Written in the 11th century by the noble woman Murasaki Shikibu, 'The Tale of Genji' shows the pastimes and customs of the imperial elite that are described in detail, giving readers an insight to the distinct court culture of the Heian period (794-1185).

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.

More Information
Print Format Triptych
Artist Name Toyokuni III Utagawa (Kunisada I)
Title Sound and Scent of Spring
Subject Male & Female, Kimono Design
Dimensions (L) 24.3 x 35.3, (C) 25.0 x 35.3, (R) 24.6 x 35.5 cm
Condition Report Slightly faded, pinholes (some restored).

Toyokuni III Utagawa (Kunisada I)

Kunisada became a pupil of Toyokuni at the age of 15, and would later, after the latter’s death, assume his name. Kunisada’s pictures reflect the culture of Japan in the years leading up to the country’s opening to the West. His first book illustrations were published in 1807 and his first actor portrait the following year. Alongside theatrical scenes and courtesans, yakusha-e was his preferred genre amidst all his popular and extensive output. As he painted very many of these, continuing the stout realism of his teacher, he acquired the sobriquet “Yakusha-e no Kunisada” – Kunisada, the actor painter. In his numerous bijin-ga he clung to the deal of beauty prevalent at the time. While his style must be described as powerful and realistic, even coarsely so, his draughtsmanship and coloration are if anything monotonous and lacking finesse. From 1830 he continued the development of the Utagawa school, and from 1844 onwards signed his works Toyokuni III.