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kakemono-e, signed Keisai Eisen ga, with publisher’s seal Sanoki (Sanoya Kihei of Kikakudo), and censor’s seal Fu (Fukatsu Ihei, ca. 1842-46), ca. 1842-46
oban tate-e vertical diptych 29 by 9 7/8 in., 73.7 by 25 cm
The pattern on her kimono is comprised of a variety of genjimon– a group of 54 stylized crests which correspond to one of each of the 54 chapters of The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) that came into use during the Edo period as part of a Genji-themed incense game called Genji-ko. The use of this motif is a reflection of the popularity of all things Genji due to the success of the modern adaption, A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji) written by Ryutei Tanehiko (1783-1842) which was issued as a serialized novel beginning in 1829. Seventy-six booklets later, the novel was completed in 1842, but the craze for Genji-related material (Genji Monagatari or Inaka Genji) lasted well into the 1850s.
Eisen appears to have been inspired by an earlier kakemono-e from the 1830s by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), which depicts a beauty in nearly the identical pose (but with her head turned in the opposite direction), shading herself with an open umbrella while holding a package marked with the same logo and wearing a kimono decorated in a similar manner with a double-gourd motif.
Andreas Marks, Genji’s World in Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2012, pp. 10-17 (re: A Rustic Genji)
Minneapolis Institute of Art, new.artsmia.org, accession no. P.75.51.328 (similar print by Kunisada)