Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti]. Shozan KOIKAWA, artist, or INSUITEI.
Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti].
Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti].
Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti].
Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti].

One of the Last Edo-Period Shunga;
With the Very Rare Illustrated Wrapper

Ukiyo genji gojuyon jo [Floating World, Tale of Genji, in 54 Chapters]. [By Tanekiyo Ryusuiti].

23 full-page & 11 double-page woodcut colored illus. 22; 19;15 folding leaves. Three vols. 8vo, orig. patterned semi-stiff wrappers, each decorated on the covers with what appear to be stencilled nature motifs, orig. block-printed vignette labels pasted on upper covers, new stitching. [Japan]: n.d. [but WorldCat suggests 1861-64].

This set is composed of the first two volumes of the second series and the third volume of the first series of this superbly illustrated shunga parody of The Tale of Genji. There seems to be no surviving complete set of the three-volume first series, and we can trace only two sets of the complete three-volume second series (at the Royal Ontario Museum and the International Resource Center for Japanese Studies). Our set covers chapters 28-36 (Vol. I of the second series); chapters 37-45 (Vol. II of the second series); and chapters 19-27 (Vol. III of the first series). A complete set would include all 54 chapters, but none seem to exist.

This is a very late shunga and one of the last before the end of the Edo period. Almost all of the techniques that make Japanese illustrated books so remarkable are utilized here. Each illustration has, in the upper right or left hand corner, a picture scroll that shows the original scene from a chapter in The Tale of Genji with a label stating which chapter it is from. This mixed set is finely illustrated, richly colored and employing bokashi, the delicate variation of shading of pigment within the image; blind-embossing; and the very ample use of gold and silver. The depicted garments are a mixture of extremely complex textures, colors, and patterns, all accentuated by blind-embossing and multiple woodblock impressions. There are two kinds of black, flat black and shiny black, and the gold has been painted over black, giving a most unusual appearance. Each of the woodcut illustrations in the second series has a woodcut border with the Genji-ko symbols.

This copy is accompanied by two very rare survivals: the illustrated original color-printed wrapper for the three volumes and the original wooden box. Normally, the wrapper would have been discarded upon first reading. The illustrated wrapper is very finely printed with the same care as the books inside, designed to attract the eye, with gold printing and bokashi. For a discussion of wrappers on shunga books and their rarity, see Clark et al., eds., Shunga. Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, p. 241.

Koikawa (1821-1907), was a prolific artist. He illustrated as well as wrote numerous books in which he used various pen names. The Preface in Vol. I is written by “Insuitei,” a pen name for Koikawa.

Very fine set. Occasionally, this is catalogued under Utagawa Kunimori II.

Price: $6,500.00

Item ID: 6789

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