Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Elopers in Musashino

Artist:
Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, 1753?–1806)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
early 19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Right sheet of a triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Image (oban triptych): 15 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (38.4 x 25.7 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936
Accession Number:
JP2733
Not on view
In this episode of The Tales of Ise, the indefatigable young hero of the amorous saga abducts another young girl. He takes her to Musashi Province, far east of the capital, and, pursued by the local authorities for his crime, he hides the girl in a field of tall flowering grass and escapes. In order to force him out of hiding, his pursuers begin to set fire to the field; then they hear the voice of the girl:

Field of Musashi—
Do not burn it down today!
Like the young grasses
here my lover crouching hides
and I too lie in hiding.

Although she believes her abductor to be in the field with her, according to the text he has already fled and left her behind. The cute, rounded, childlike faces, which are typical of Harunobu's figures, further contribute to the strong sense of pathos in the couple threatened by the torches brandished against the night sky in the upper right corner.
Signature: Utamaro hitsu
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