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Archive: Ashiyuki

Description:
(R) Nakamura Utaemon III as Jirôzaemon; (M) Ichikawa Ebijûrô I as Kamura Utaemon; (L) Kataoka Nizaemon VII as Takaichi Buemon in Oriawase tsuzure no nishiki, Kado Theater, Osaka
Signature:
Ashiyuki ga
Seals:
No artist seal
Publisher:
Shiochô (Shioya Chôbei)
Date:
8/1816
Format:
(H x W)
Oban triptych nishiki-e
37.4 x 78.2 cm
Impression:
Good, with karazuri (blind-printing)
Condition:
Color good for a work of this period, although purple faded to buff and red slightly faded; good condition (two small areas of moisture staining on left sheet; slight trimming, most noticeably at bottom; a few small repaired wormholes along some edges; light soil, but no toning and not backed)
Price (USD/¥):
SOLD

Inquiry (Ref #ASY02)

Comments:
Background

Oriawase tsuzure no nishiki premiered in 1764 as an adaptation of Katakiuchi tsuzure no nishiki (first produced in 1736). Jirôzaemon is an outcast (hinin or non-person) trying to survive near a cemetery along the Daian Temple Embankment (Daianji Tsuzumi). There he is confronted by Kamura Utaemon as Takaichi Buemon looks on. Utaemon intends to test the worthiness of his sword (katana) — which Buemon has judged to be a fake — by killing a hinin. Jirôzaemon is ill but attempts to fend off his attackers. Utaemon, who has taken away Jirôzaemon's bamboo sword cane (named Aoe Uesaka), reaches for his katana as Jirôzaemon subdues one of Utaemon's underlings. In the Katakiuchi version of the tale, Jirôzaemon gains a temporary reprieve, but when Utaemon and his henchmen return he is killed. Buemon cannot abide the heartless murder and aids Jirôzaemon's son in taking revenge and slaying Utaemon.

Design:

Prints of this early vintage are difficult to find. Note the stockier drawing of the figures with their rectilinear faces and strong jaws. The polished sophistication of later works is absent here, creating an arguably less affected, unvarnished portrayal of the actors in famous roles.

Provenance:

Okada (a famous private Japanese collection not seen in public for more than 70 years until its recent dispersal, a blockbuster event in the world of kamigata-e; see KAM).

References: IBKYS-I, no. 201; IKB-I, no. 1-385; NKE, pp. 292-293