Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)

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Four cats, the first sheet of a triptych Tatoe zukushi no uchi, “Proverbs Illustrated by Cats.” Examples being: “Bonito to a cat,” “Coin to a cat,” “Not even a cat would eat it.” Published 1852 by Kagaya Yasubei. Bob-tailed and calico cats were common in the Edo period. It is well known that Kuniyoshi was a cat-lover and Yoshimune, one of his pupils, relates how they were allowed to run around his studio and when a cat died he would have it sent to a nearby temple. He also had a Buddhist altar erected in his home for his deceased cats. Another pupil of Kuniyoshi’s was Kyosai and he depicts the chaotic studio with cats and other artists milling around in his illustrated book Kyosai kadan, part II, vol. 3, of 1887. Of the utmost rarity: I have not catalogued another sheet from this triptych in 50 years.


Very fine impression and colour. One minor blemish, otherwise very fine condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga. (All the cats have blind-printing on their coats which is not apparent on the illustrated examples of this print. Possibly due to the reproductive process.)


Status: Sold



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