Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Polychrome woodblock print (surimono); ink and color on paper
7 15/16 x 7 1/8 in. (20.2 x 18.1 cm)
Not on view
In Japanese prints, beautiful women are often cast in the roles of famous male heroes, enabling the artist both to create a more attractive image and to give an additional layer of meaning to a seemingly simple subject. Relaxing in a boat, this beauty actually parodies one of the strongmen, Katsusenba Oteiroku, of the Chinese novel of the fourteenth century, The 108 Heroes of the Suikoden, a tale of the revenge of a band of criminals against a corrupt government.
Kuniyoshi, influenced by European models, often incorporated Western techniques in prints with nominally foreign themes. As this series relates to a Chinese story, the artist has contrasted the contemporary beauty to a landscape drawn in a foreign style, using Western perspective and stylized scenery (clouds and trees).
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