KANPEI AND OKARU (Utagawa Kunisada)

N.1 ukiyo-e woodblock print
Year: 1859
Condition: good
Size: 25 x 36,5 cm



Original woodblock print of vertical large oban (大判) format made, in January 1859, by the artist Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞). The print, a precious example of a work also present in the famous collection of Japanese woodcuts that the painter Vincent van Gogh bought in the winter of 1886-87, is taken from the series “Matched Pictures for The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers” (忠臣蔵絵兄弟) and is dedicated to Act III (三段目) of Chushingura (忠臣蔵).

In this series of prints, the artist depicts beautiful women and courtesans in the same scenic poses as the protagonists of the play inspired by the deeds of the forty-seven ronin (四十七士). In this case we see, in the top left inset, two famous lovers: Hayano Kanpei (早野勘平), retainer of En’ya Hangan (塩冶判官), and Koshimoto Okaru (腰元お軽), who distracts her beloved from duty and induces him to leave his post just when the events, at the court of the shogun (将軍), are precipitating in the famous aggression to the evil Ko no Moronao (高師直).

The print, produced by the publisher Moriya Jihei (森屋冶兵衛) owner of Kinshindo (錦森堂), despite the obvious signs of aging and in particular small holes and ancient restorations, is in overall good condition.