The middle panel of a tryptic by Toyohara Kunichika in 1869 entitled “High Level Courtesans with Dragon Obi”. There seem to be multiple versions of this piece, some more rainbow colored whereas this one has a more limited color palette. Among the other differences is that this one has bare trees in the background whereas the other variation has blooming trees.
Strong, even colors, no discoloration or fading present and even toning. With the exception of a wrinkle in the top right corner the print is nice and flat without any paper issues. Thin margins. Nothing on the verso. Great condition for the age. Unlike many tryptic this one is capable of standing alone framed.
About the Artist
“Since I am tired of painting portraits of people of this world, I will paint portraits of the King of hell and the devils.”
Born in 1835, Toyohara Kunichika grew up in the Kyobashi district of Edo in the midst of merchants and artisans. In 1848, at age 13, he was accepted as an apprentice into the studio of Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III 1786–1865). Kunichika’s work stands in contrast to that of many of his contemporaries as he persistently held onto the traditional style and subject matter of the classic Japanese woodcut, unaffected by new Western forms of art. His love of Kabuki inspired him to depict actors in their various roles and varying facial expressions. His skillful use of color and ability to translate the actor’s depth of emotion onto the page makes his work some of the most dramatic ever produced. Later on in his career, Kunichika turned primarily to the triptych format as the increased size gave him the space to fully portray the drama and action of the characters represented.
Kunichika was known as one of “The Three Greats of Meiji Ukiyo-e”, along with Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892) and Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915)