The Pure Red Shell - Masuogai
By Ryūryūkyo Shinsai
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Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 13,9 x 18,7 cm
Series: A matching Game of Poems
Publisher: Yomogawa, 1809.
Very fine impression, colour and condition. Printed with metallic pigments and blindprinting on fine and heavy paper.
A courtesan seated at a black-lacquered toilet case and mirror stand arrange the collar of her under-kimono. Another courtesan with a water basin in front of her turn towards a young playing with a shuttlecock.
The Pure Red Shell is the number 6 of the Series A Matching Game of Poems, composed by 36 surimono, 10 of which are preserved in the Rijskmuseum (Matthi Forrer, 2013, nn. 154 – 162, pp. 92 – 96). An impression of The Pure Red Shell is conserved in the Rijkmuseum (op. cit. , n. 154, link).
The three poems are works of other three poet: Goyasudai Aritsune, Kagyotei Tetsuito (or Tetsundo) e Yomo no Utagaki Magao (1753 – 1829), Shikatsube Magao, pupil of Yomo Akara.
The Aritsune’s poem reads: The red shells are even happier this New Year when they see the Goddess of Spring in the large mirror.
At the time, this Series, composed by 36 luxury surimono plus an additional sheet, The Table of Contents, with small design of all the shells depicted in the 36 surimono, was one of the largest groups of surimono issued simultaneously.
It was followed by other series: Hokusai Twenty-four Examples of Filial Piety, dateble 1800, Sori ‘s The Thirty – six Poets as Craftsmen, 1802 and the untitled series of the Small Tōkaidō of Hokusai, composed by 54 design, datable 1804 c.
However no one of this Series reach the perfection and the elegance of A Matching Game of Poems, for the refinement of the colour and for the use of metallic pigments.
The same sequence was used after in the Hokusai’s Series A Matching Game with the Genroku Poem Shell, 1821.
The Surimono were originally created individually, only in the early 1800’s the idea of Series of surimono developed.