|Artist||Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) (1786-1865)|
|Dimensions||Vertical ôban triptych (~15.6 x 10.7 each sheet)|
Signature: Toyokuni ga.
Censor's seal: Aratame.
"Akegarasu Yuki Urasato" or "Tragedy on a Snowy Night" was a play first staged at the Takemoto Tsudayu Theatre in Osaka in 1853. The triptych shows the climax of the play, Tokijiro is outside the fence of the Yamanaya tea house where his lover the courtesan Urasato, whom has given birth to his daughter Midori, frequents. Taking Urasato into the snow-covered garden, Kambei, the owner of the tea house who has stolen the painting of Tokijiro's master, sternly asks her about a secret letter she has sent to Tokijiro, for he suspects that Tokijiro already knows that the painting is in his possession. He makes Okaya, a maid in his employ, bind Urasato to a tree and beat her with a bamboo broom. When Midori tries to restrain her, she binds and beats her too. Kambei brings a red hot iron pole to torture them with.
Kunisada (also known as Toyokuni III) was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock print in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. The artist started his career as a pupil of Toyokuni I whose name he adopted in 1844 as Toyokuni III. Almost from the first day of his activity, to the time of his death in 1865, Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Always at the vanguard of his time, and in tune with the tastes of the public, he continuously developed his style, which was sometimes radically changed, and did not adhere to stylistic constraints set by any of his contemporaries. He was not only a brilliant print maker but also an excellent business man who had great commercial success. Following the traditional pattern of the Utagawa school, Kunisada's main occupation was kabuki and actor prints, and about sixty percent all of his designs fall in this category. Notable students of his include Toyohara Kunichika, Utagawa Sadahide and Utagawa Kunisada II.
Condition: Some minor toning to sheets.