Artist Biography: Gyokutei Yoshimine (玉亭芳峯), who also used 芳峰 for "Yoshimine," was a pupil of Yoshiume (1819-1879; act. c. 1841-1859). Yoshimine worked from the mid-1850s until the late 1870s. His personal name was Yasubei (安兵衛) and his surnames Utagawa (歌川) and Takebe (武部). His gô (art pseudonyms: 號) included Gyokutei (玉亭), Kyokutei (旭亭), Ichibaisai (一梅齋), and Kochōrō (胡蝶樓).
Play: Keisei hanabusa zôshi (Courtesan: A storybook blossom: けいせい英草紙 also given as けいせい英双紙) has a plot that is unknown to us. This particular production was featured as a drama for the New Year, as it was more than two decades earlier (KUH37).
Shirosaru Tango (白猿丹後) and Katômatsu Sajima (下等松左司馬) are shown in confrontation under a pitch-black rainy sky. Behind them is a painted stage-backdrop of a snowy landscape rendered in the uki-e (floating picture: 浮絵 or 浮繪) manner. These were perspective pictures modeled after one-point vanishing perspective learned from the West. The term gained popular currency because the foreground seemed to "float" before the receding space. In uki-e, the horizon line was typically low and the receding space deep and sharply converged.
It is fascinating to compare this type of yakusha-e (actor print: 役者絵) done early in Yoshimine's career in a decidedly Kamigata manner with his later jidai-nishiki-e (history color prints: 時代錦絵) displaying a strong Tokyo flavor and early Meiji-period chromatic range (YMN02).
The colors in our impression are unfaded, and margins remain along two sides. As for other surviving impressions, we have so far found only the left sheet in the Waseda University collection, Tokyo.
References: WAS-VI, no. 391 (inv 016-1185; left sheet only); KNP-7, p. 58