(Japan 1786 – 1865)
(Japan 1797 – 1858)
a - right image - three people and rabbit snow sculptu; 36.4 x 25 cm
b - centre image - lantern, bridge and snow; 36 x 25.6 cm
c - left image - two people and building; 36.1 x 25.6 cm
This fine triptych depicts Prince Genji and Lady Asagao watching three young girls making a snow rabbit on a moonlit winter’s night. The scene illustrates the chapter “Asagao” from the most famous novel of Japanese literature,'The Tale of Genji', written by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century.
This triptych is a cooperative work by the two most prolific 'ukiyo-e' artists of the day, Utagawa Kunisada I and Andô Hiroshige I: Kunisada was responsible for the figures while Hiroshige was in charge for the background landscape. Kunisada was the protagonist in the production of 'Genji-e', having illustrated hundreds of volumes of woodblock printed books and designed countless series of single prints, but joint works with Hiroshige were rather few in number. This triptych belongs to a small group of such cooperative works, of which today only a handful are extant.
"Genji pictures" ('Genji-e') became very fashionable after the publication of Ryûtei Tanehiko's novel "Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji" (published as series between 1828 to 1842) - a parody of the classical tale set in the Muromachi period, and the subsequent adaptations as Kabuki plays.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2007.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2007-08, Sydney, 2008, 28 (colour illus.).
Kyoko Hatakeyama and Craig Freedman, Snow on the pine: Japan's quest for a leadership role in Asia, Singapore, 2010, front cover (colour illus.), back cover (colour illus.), spine (colour illus.), iii (illus.). The colour illus. on the spine is a detail of this work.
Gary Hickey, Genji - the world of the Shining Prince, 'Genji in the 'Floating World', pgs. 30-41., Sydney, 2008, 2-3 (colour illus.), 37 (colour illus.). fig. 19. The colour illus. on pg. 2-3 is a detail of this work.
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Newtown, Nov 2008, cover (colour illus.), 9 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on the cover is a detail of this work
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Newtown, Feb 2009, 48 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 48 is a detail of this work.
Genji - the world of the Shining Prince, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Dec 2008–15 Feb 2009