The Tale of Genji. Chapter 2

Utagawa Kunisada

  • The Tale of Genji. Chapter 2 2
Basic information
Utagawa Kunisada
The Tale of Genji. Chapter 2
Date of creation
19th c.
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
The print depicts a room that is divided by a screen and a lantern on a high stand. In the right part, behind a screen on a tatami wearing a monochrome pink and beige kimono and a loose obi belt, sits Utsusemi, the wife of Iyo no suke. In the left-hand side of the print, a bald-headed elder samurai, dressed in the traditional montsuki haori hakama costume and carrying two swords, is shown against a backdrop of upright scrolls. The samurai suddenly emerges from a chest. With his right hand he grips the collar of the kimono of Prince Genji, who is seated on the floor. The young man tries to resist, raising his right hand behind his head.
In the top right corner a calligraphic inscription in a cartouche and a serial number "2". Bottom left author's signature, censors' and publisher's stamps.