The Tale of Genji. Chapter 11

Utagawa Kunisada

  • The Tale of Genji. Chapter 11 2
Basic information
Utagawa Kunisada
The Tale of Genji. Chapter 11
Date of creation
colour woodcut embossing
paper Indian ink
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
23 x 34
Information about author
Utagawa Kunisada
Artist's lifetime
Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865), also known as Toyokuni III, was a famous, prolific and successful artist who worked in the ukiyo-e genre ("picture of the world in progress") in 19th-century Japan. He represented the Utagawa school of xylography and later became its head. Practically from his first day of work until his death, Kunisada was a trendsetter in Japanese woodcutting. Known for his series of theatrical prints, city views of Edo and bijin-ga (depictions of beauties). Twelve works by Utagawa Kunisada from the collection of Borys Voznytskyi Lviv National Art Gallery are part of a series of 54 editions depicting scenes from sections of the writer Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, which is considered one of the greatest works of Japanese literature. The court life and travels of Prince Genji are depicted with amazing attention to detail, including lavish clothing and architectural compositions. The images are made with very fine lines and understated colours of blue, red and brown in various shades. Works are united by the same print in the upper right-hand corner in cursive Sose (herb lettering). The print includes a calligraphic inscription in a cartouche and a serial number. There is also an ornamental frame with Genji emblems, which is repeated on each of the works. Such a combination was characteristic of book engravings.
Object description
In the centre right on the tatami sits an elderly burly woman, Reikeiden, a former concubine of Emperor Kiritsubo, dressed in a much embroidered kimono. The woman is talking to Genji, standing outside the open window, leaning against the frame. There are three other women in the room, two of whom kneel in front of Reikeiden and the third stands behind them. All the characters are dressed in traditional clothes.
In the top right corner a calligraphic inscription in a cartouche and a serial number "11". Underneath on the left is the author's signature, the stamps of the censors and the publisher's stamps.