AZUMA AND YOJIBEI (Kitagawa Utamaro)

N.1 abuna-e woodblock print
Year: 1802
Condition: signs of aging
Size: 26 x 20 cm



Important woodblock printed double-page illustration made in 1802 by the artist Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川歌麿) and depicting the famous lovers protagonists of a theatrical work inspired by a true story: the courtesan Azuma (吾妻) and her beloved Yojibei (与次兵衛), a wealthy village headman who, around the years 1673-75, had redeemed her contract from the house of pleasure Fujiya (富士屋), in the Shinmachi (新町) district of Osaka (大阪), paying the considerable sum of 300 gold pieces.

The work presented here is taken from the third volume (下) of the sumizuri-e (墨摺絵) black and white version of one of the most interesting shunga (春画) books of the last Utamaro, the famous “Michiyuki koi no futozao” (道行恋濃婦登佐男) whose title, composed of a play on ideograms, is often translated “On the road: Love Songs for the Thick Necked Shamisen” but which, more prosaically, in its second part means “trysts of big penises”.

The two rare pages, glued to a relining carried out on the back with another sheet of Japanese washi paper (和紙), show obvious signs of aging.