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Otsu-e fToki ni otsu-e kitai no mare-mono, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Image attached to P.3656-R

An image of Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Otsu-e fToki ni ôtsu-e kitai no mare-mono. Kuniyoshi, Utagawa (Japanese, 1798-1861). Colour print from woodblocks. Ôban triptych, each sheet 364 x 252. Signed: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga, with red kiri seal. Block-cutter: hori Takichi. Publisher: Minatoya Kohei. Censors’ seals: kinugasa, hama and mera, murata. c.1847-1852. Ukiyo-e. 
Notes: Kuniyoshi is depicted among characters coming alive from the type of folk paintings called ôtsu-e (Ôtsu pictures), after the city on the Tôkaidô highway at Lake Biwa, where they were produced and sold as souvenirs to pilgrims and travellers. The rustic ôtsu-e style, with its rapid, broad brushstrokes, was occasionally used by major ukiyo-e artists. Kuniyoshi evidently intended a comparison between himself and the legendary painter Ukiyo Matabei, loosely based on Iwasa Matabei (1578-1650), who was supposed to be the founder of the ukiyo-e school and the inventor of ôtsu-e. Various legends tell of the characters in Matabei’s paintings coming alive and these were sometimes depicted in paintings and prints, including a diptych by Kuniyoshi published in 1853. Although the artist’s face is hidden by a fluttering picture, the fan (uchiwa) lying beside him is decorated with Kuniyoshi’s personal kiri (paulownia) seal, which also appears as a red crest beneath his signature. The cat confirms the identification; Kuniyoshi could not work without one of his favourite cats beside him. This hidden identity is a clue to the fact that there are other portraits to be discovered in the print: the faces of the characters coming alive are actually unnamed portraits of famous actors. This was an ingenious way of getting round the prohibition against publishing actor prints contained in an edict of 1842. Among favourite ôtsu-e subjects depicted is the legendary warrior-priest Benkei carrying off the bell of Mii Temple (foreground of left sheet) or the Times: A Rare Thing You've Been Waiting For (Toki ni otsu-e kitai no m

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Otsu-e fToki ni ôtsu-e kitai no mare-mono. Kuniyoshi, Utagawa (Japanese, 1798-1861). Colour print from woodblocks. Ôban triptych, each sheet 364 x 252. Signed: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga, with red kiri seal. Block-cutter: hori Takichi. Publisher: Minatoya Kohei. Censors’ seals: kinugasa, hama and mera, murata. c.1847-1852. Ukiyo-e. Notes: Kuniyoshi is depicted among characters coming alive from the type of folk paintings called ôtsu-e (Ôtsu pictures), after the city on the Tôkaidô highway at Lake Biwa, where they were produced and sold as souvenirs to pilgrims and travellers. The rustic ôtsu-e style, with its rapid, broad brushstrokes, was occasionally used by major ukiyo-e artists. Kuniyoshi evidently intended a comparison between himself and the legendary painter Ukiyo Matabei, loosely based on Iwasa Matabei (1578-1650), who was supposed to be the founder of the ukiyo-e school and the inventor of ôtsu-e. Various legends tell of the characters in Matabei’s paintings coming alive and these were sometimes depicted in paintings and prints, including a diptych by Kuniyoshi published in 1853. Although the artist’s face is hidden by a fluttering picture, the fan (uchiwa) lying beside him is decorated with Kuniyoshi’s personal kiri (paulownia) seal, which also appears as a red crest beneath his signature. The cat confirms the identification; Kuniyoshi could not work without one of his favourite cats beside him. This hidden identity is a clue to the fact that there are other portraits to be discovered in the print: the faces of the characters coming alive are actually unnamed portraits of famous actors. This was an ingenious way of getting round the prohibition against publishing actor prints contained in an edict of 1842. Among favourite ôtsu-e subjects depicted is the legendary warrior-priest Benkei carrying off the bell of Mii Temple (foreground of left sheet) or the Times: A Rare Thing You've Been Waiting For (Toki ni otsu-e kitai no m

Image data

  • Accession Number: P.3656-R
  • Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
  • Photographer name: Andrew Morris
  • Image height: 478 pixels
  • Image width: 1024 pixels
  • Processed with: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.0 (Windows)
  • Filesize: 151.49kB

Key words

19th Century actor actors artistic artists cats characters colour printing costume fan fans Fitz_PDP Japanese Kuniyoshi oban otsu pictures otsu-e painter portraits print self portrait triptych uchiwa ukiyo-e Utagawa Kuniyoshi woodblock woodcut

Colours in this image

rgb(59,73,69), rgb(223,210,177), rgb(117,91,70), rgb(130,133,117), rgb(198,163,107), rgb(184,129,67), rgb(249,239,216), rgb(172,174,154), rgb(160,147,133), rgb(86,133,158), rgb(89,156,140)

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Otsu-e fToki ni otsu-e kitai no mare-mono, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/image/media-218482 Accessed: 2022-10-03 16:03:33

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/image/media-218482 |title=Otsu-e fToki ni otsu-e kitai no mare-mono, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-10-03 16:03:33|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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