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A PRIVATE ENGLISH COLLECTION OF PRINTS BY UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Minamoto Yorimitsu (Raiko) ko no yakata ni tsuchigumo yokai o nasu zu [The Earth Spider Generates Monsters at the Mansion of Lord Minamoto Yorimitsu]

Woodblock print, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga, published by Ibaya Senzaburo, 1843
Vertical oban triptych (each sheet approx. 36.2 x 24.9cm.)

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Lot Essay

Click to meet our specialists and learn tips on collecting prints" label-more="Read more" label-less="Read less" chars-limit="850" html-preview="true"> The evil Earth Spider conjures up a battle of demons to torment the unwell Raiko (Yorimitsu) in his sleep (far right), whilst his retainers play go. This design got Kuniyoshi into trouble with the authorities because it was felt that it was a caricature of the Shogun Ieyoshi (ruled 1837-53) and his hated chief minister, Mizuno Tadakuni (1794-1851). As a result the blocks were destroyed. Despite the controversy, soon after, the print's popularity resulted in two pirated versions being produced from completely re-cut blocks, each with notable differences when compared to the original. This print is from the first version. For a detailed comparison of the different versions see T. Clark, Kuniyoshi: From the Arthur R. Miller Collection, (Royal Academy of Arts, 2009), cat. 124 and 125, p. 268-269.

Other impressions of this version are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum (see www.vam.ac.uk museum number E.10535-1886), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (see www.mfa.org accession number 11.39572a-c) and the Edo Tokyo Museum (see http://digitalmuseum.rekibun.or.jp/app/collection/detail?ss=01=1000200=2000220=0192200444).


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