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Archive: Kunikazu (一珠齋國員)

Tamae-bashi kei ("View of the Tamae Bridge") from the series Naniwa hyakkei ("One Hundred Views of Osaka": 浪花百景)
Kunikazu ga
No artist seal
Circa late 1850s - early 1860s
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
Very good color; good condition (a few very slight creases; a few tiny marks and very slight soil; album backing and remanants of paper hinges in corners on verso)
Price (USD/¥):
SOLD (Ref #KKZ02)

The landscape tradition as an independent genre was never firmly established in Kamigata printmaking as it had been in Edo, although Osaka artists frequently included abbreviated landscapes as minor motifs in their actor-print designs. Nevertheless, Kunikazu and a few other late-period Osaka artists designed several series of landscape prints (fûkei-ga) in a style influenced by Hiroshige.

The Tamae Bridge once spanned the Dojima River in a scenic area where kurayashiki (city storehouses and daimyô residences or warehouses) were plentiful. Thus the bridge served not only pedestrians but also commercial traffic involved in the transportation of rice and other goods.


Kunikazu has depicted a daimyô's entourage as it crosses the bridge toward an observation tower and, in the far distance, Shitennô Temple ("Temple of the Four Guardian Kings"; Osaka's first Buddhist temple founded by Prince Shôtoku in the seventh century). Commoners (chônin) kneel and bow their heads in deference to the passing samurai. The blue roofs of warehouses can be seen through the bridge railings. Kunikazu added a playful flourish, too, offering a choreographed placement of the figures and exaggerated symmetry punctuated by the angle of the horse's legs echoing that of the retainers' swords.

This is the same impression featured on the website Viewing Japanese Prints (see Kunikazu - will open in new window).

References: NHT, no. 26; HSK, no. 264