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.
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.
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)