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Archive: Ashiyuki

Description:
(1R) Arashi Tomisaburô II (嵐富三郎) as ten'nyô (heavenly woman) Itsukushima (天女いつくしま); (2R) Arashi Kitsusaburô II (嵐橘三郎) as Ouchi Samanosuke (大内左馬之助); (3R) Bandô Jutarô I (坂東寿太郎) as Naruto Kobei (鳴戸幸兵衛) in Keisei suô no dairi (A courtesan play—intrigue inside the imperial palace: けいせい素袍 [内裏]), Naka Theater, Osaka
Signature:
Gigadô Ashiyuki ga (戯画堂芦ゆき画)
Seals:
Ashiyuki
Publisher:
Honsei (本清)
Date:
1/1828
Format:
(H x W)
Ôban triptych nishiki-e
37.4 x 76.0 cm
Impression:
Excellent
Condition:
Excellent color and overall condition, unbacked; album creases near edge of R & C sheets, several very small filled wormholes on L sheet, stray pigment in water spout
Price (USD/¥):
Comments:
Background

We are unfamiliar with the plot of Keisei suô no dairi (meaning, roughly, A courtesan play—intrigue inside the imperial palace), but the subject appears to be a dramatic adaptation of events from the Muromachi period (1333-1574). Naruto Kobei is actually Amako Haruhisa (1514-1562) in disguise (also see ASY34), a historical figure who was the grandson of Amako Tsunehisa (1458-1541), founder of the Amako clan in the Chûgoku region. In 1486 Tsunehisa conquered the province of Izumo and the island of Oki. In 1541 Haruhisa inherited control of the clan from his grandfather, but with Haruhisa's death, the Amako weakened. In 1566, Gassan-Toda castle in Izumo fell to the Mori Montonari (1497-1571), whereupon Haruhisa's successor Amako Yoshihisa (died 1610) surrendered and was forced into exile.

Design

Unquestionably, this triptych ranks among the best of Ashiyuki's later works. The agitated, cresting waves express through a natural phenomenon the turmoil among the three protagonists as they confront one another below a flowering cherry tree. The water spout underneath Itsukushima reveals that she is an otherworldly spirit. Note the child placed in a basket hanging from the tree.

Our impression has nicely preserved colors and large sheet sizes.

Provenance

This triptych comes from the much-admired Martin Levitz collection, New York City. Some of the Levitz prints were used to illustrate Schwaab's Osaka Prints (1989).

References: IKBYS-I, no. 276; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (11.35170-2)