(Japan 1823 – 1880)
32.8 x 23.3 cm image; 33.2 x 23.5 cm sheet
Using the best quality papers, ink and gold leaf, 'Playing cards of Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji' is considered to be Utagawa Kunisada II’s most successful series. Evoking the Heian-period court game of shell matching, 'kai awase', each print in this series is identified by two shells, one of which bears the title and the other a 'Genji-mon', a crest corresponding to a chapter of the Tale.
In this series, Kunisada II relies heavily on the Genji images that his teacher and father-in-law, Kunisada, created for the illustrated book series 'Nise Murasaki inaka Genji', instead of merely transposing conventional iconography into a modern setting.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW.
Genji - the world of the Shining Prince, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Dec 2008–15 Feb 2009