Ukiyo-e print



Colour woodblock print on paper mount. Ukiyo-e print depicting a scene from "The fifty four chapters of Genji", a series of prints portraying the fifty four chapters of the famous book "Genji Monogatari", The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu. The scene depicts one female figure sat on the raised wooden walkways that surrounded traditional Japanese houses, and a male figure stands behind her. In the background, a character dressed in brightly coloured clothes stands inside the house and quietly observes the other two figures. A sliding door decorated with lotus flowers floating in water divides the front and back characters, and part of the garden is visible in the bottom and top left hand corners of the print. The text in the red box in the top left hand corner reads from top to bottom "genji gojyuuyon chou", The fifty four chapters of Genji, and the Japanese symbol for the number four has been written in the bottom right hand corner of the adjoining white box. This suggests this is a scene from the fourth chapter of The Tale of Genji. Above the number four, the word "Yuugao" can be read from top to bottom. This is the likely title of the scene. In chapter four of The Tale of Genji, the main male character Genji encounters the female character Yuugao and pursues a secret courtship with her. The two figures depicted in the foreground of the print are likely to be Yuugao and Genji. The character hiding in the background could be Genji's loyal vassal, Koremitsu, who Genji had sent to spy on Yuugao and her servants in the lead-up to the courtship. The text in the bottom right hand corner reads from right to left and top to bottom "Ikkunsai Yoshiiku hitsu". Ikkunsai Yoshiiku is one of the signatures of the Japanese ukiyo-e maker Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904), and "hitsu" means "written by".