An aiban print: Junidan hana no nishiki, “Twelve Chapters of Floral Brocades” from Seiro Niwaka zensei asobi, “Most Splendid Entertainment of the Niwaka Festival in the Licensed Quarters.” The Festival was held in September in the Edo Yoshiwara district. Shows Minamoto no Yoshitsune visiting Princess Joruri. Not listed in Yoshida or Shibui, Ukiyoe zuten, although another version is in Yoshida, Utamaro zenshu on page 162. Published c 1802 by Yamashiroya Toemon.
Fine impression, colour and condition. Perfect colour. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
3 vols. complete Ehon warai jogo, “The Laughing Drinker.” Published c.1803. This – probably Utamaro’s last erotic book – was issued in colour and, as here, in monochrome. According to Hayashi the two were published simultaneously, but with the black and white edition from separate blocks and an additional black block for the hair. Later recut editions are known.
Fine impressions. Minimal soil. Slight margin wormage at end of first volume and a little wormage at beginning of last volume. Nice original hand painted covers and original title slips. In chitsu case. A very nice copy of this well known book.
Mishima, Province of Settsu ( or Toi ) from a set of Six Crystal ( Tama ) Rivers, Furyu mu tamagawa. The streams were noted for the purity of their water and the three girls are shown fulling cloth ( hence Toi which is the alternative name of the river and the word for beating cloth ). Published by Izumiya Ichibei, c.1803-4. This appears to be from a set – like others of Utamaro’s – that could be viewed separately or as a continuous composition. See Yoshida, Utamaro zenshu, p. 173 for another design from the set. Rare.
Fine impression and colour. Full size. One minor mark, otherwise very good condition. Signed Utamaro fude.
The lovers Miuraya Agemaki and Yorozuya Sukeroku from the set: Jitsu kurabe iro no minakami, “True Feelings Compared: The Founts of Love.” A series of half-length portraits from joruri love-suicide plays with the addition of several other famous couples. This design depicts a scene from the second half of a “Sukeroku” play showing the hero Yorozuya no Sukeroku and the courtesan Agemaki from the Shimabara quarter: Sukeroku kills Ikyu, steals the heirloom sword Tomokiri-maru and the two lovers escape after Sukeroku gets soaked hiding in a water butt, and then being hidden in the voluminous surcoat of Agemaki [ as shown here ]. The set published c 1798-9 by Nishimuraya. Ex collection Adolphe Stoclet, sold Sothebys 2004, lot 239, p. 139. Bought from Murakami 17/6/1908. Other impressions: Vever, Part 1, 1974, lot 197, p. 168 ( trimmed ); Shibui, Zuten, p. 110, no. 8; Yoshida, Utamaro, 1941, no. 365; TNM, vol. 2, no. 1896. Unidentified collector’s seal bottom right.
Very good impression and colour. Slightly trimmed at top and minimally at bottom. Small edge repair. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
Other examples are known with alternative titles which appear to be slightly later. The sequence of the illustrations varies from copy to copy. Of the utmost rarity there appearing to be around thirteen extant copies and considered to be one of the great Japanese illustrated books. Original covers with one original title slip. Covers and title as per B.M. copy.
Covers slightly worn with slight wormage to one cover. Contents very clean with minimal soil, marks, etc. Lacks one of the two identical colophons, but a fine example of this great rarity.
Tamaya-nai Tagasode, The courtesan Tagasode of the Tamaya House. She is shown floating a model boat in a Chinese vessel. An extremely elegant composition. Published c. 1800 – 1804. Unidentified publisher’s seal. Apparently not listed in the standard Utamaro reference works.
Fine impression. Virtually unfaded with the fugitive lilac pigment on the geisha’s costume intact. Expertly repaired wormhole above signature and minor crease to the right of figure, otherwise extremely good condition. Full size. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
The courtesan Imose of the Yoshiwara House Akatsuta-ya parading with her kamuro. Published by Yamaguchi Tobei, c early 1800′s.
Fine impression and colour. Minor edge soil, otherwise very good condition. Full size. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
The Asahiya widow ( by reading the picture-riddle in top left box ) from Komei bijin rokkasen, “Renowned Beauties Likened to the Six Immortal Poets”. Published by Omiya Gonkuro c 1795-6. This is the first edition ( there being two later states: See The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, Shugo Asano and Timothy Clark, no 228, p 169 ). Fine early design.
Fine impression. Some fading and trimming, otherwise very good condition. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
A seller of fan-papers ( Jigami-uri ) and a young beauty from an untitled series of eight prints published c1797 by Tsuruya Kiemon. The idealised itinerant merchant has black fan-shaped lacquer boxes perched on his shoulder. In his hand he holds a fan with an image of Daruma eyeing the couple. The set has some excellent designs: see The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, Shugo Asano and Timothy Clark, 1995, no. 263, p. 141, for another. Two other illustrated ( trimmed ) examples of this print are in: Ukiyo Zuten, Kiyoshi Shibui, No 13, p.77, no.2 and Utamaro Zenshu, Yoshida, p.127
Fine impression. Extremely good, unfaded colour. Full size. Extremely good condition. Au verso small Japanese collector’s seal and a dealer’s seal and description. Signed Utamaro hitsu.
A beauty from the tea-house Suminoe in the district of Shiba from a series: “Comparing the Charms of five Beauties”. The picture-riddle (in the circular cartouche top right) gives the identity of the beauty on each design. In the second edition the riddle is replaced with a flower design. Published by Omiya Gonkuro c.1795-6.
Very good impression. Slight fading. Thinned top left and paper strengthened. Signed Shomei Utamaro hitsu.
(Seiro Ehon) Nenju Gyoji, Yoshiwara Events or “Annals of the Green Houses”. One of Utamaro’s major books showing the annual events in the only government licensed brothel district in the city of Edo (Tokyo). Two volumes complete published Spring 1804 by Kazusaya Chusuke juo. Text by Jippensha Ikku. Original covers and title slips. Very fine copy: Fine impressions with very fine, completely unfaded colours. Slight stain affecting first few pages of text and a small wormhole within binding affecting the first few illustrations.
Covers in very good condition, some rubbing of title slips. Ex collections Theodore Duret (seals on last page of each vol.) and Tadamasa Hayashi (large square seals on first page of each vol.). Catalogue entry (lot 35) pasted onto inside of front cover: “Tres bel exemmplaire en parfait etat”. Also labels identifying each scene in French lightly attached in margin of each design. Certainly one of the finest copies extant.