Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
View of Kuwana (Kuwana no zu: 桑名之図) from the chuban series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road (Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi no uchi: 東海道五十三次之内)
Signed: Kōchōrō Kunisada (香蝶楼国貞)
Publisher: Sanoya Kihei
Censor's seal: kiwame
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - print published by Moriya Jihei
National Diet Library - published by Moriya Jihei and Sanoya Kihei
Spencer Museum of Art - published by Moriya Jihei
Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna
Metropolitan Museum of Art - Hiroshige's version which is considerably different
Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art - they date their copy to 1836
Honolulu Museum of Art - published by Moriya Jihei
Google maps - Kuwana This print is number 43 in the series. The curatorial files of the X say: "Here Kunisada used a different motif than Hiroshige. It shows the beginning of a street along which there are tea and inns. At the back is a level and part of the country road that leads to the station. A single traveler with luggage and a group of litter porters are just arriving at the station. In the foreground a serving girl that serves a bowl of food on a tray. She has thrown a towel (tenugui 手 拭) over her shoulder and an apron over her kimono."
In Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts on page 71 it says: "Separated by 17 miles of sea from Miya, the previous station, Kuwana, had been an important harbor town even before the Edo period. It became even more important as the second-largest station on the Tōkaidō Road, with 120 inns to accommodate travelers. It was also the large castle town of the sixteenth-century Kuwana Castle. It had been occupied by several daimyo families until the early nineteenth century; from 1823 to 1868, it was the seat of the Hisamatsu family."
Hokusai and the Tōkaidō set the precedent for this series
Hokusai did at least two different series based loosely on the Tōkaidō Road in the early years of the 19th century. Some showed figures with landscapes and some simply showed domestic scenes associated with individual stations. These are interesting precedents to both Hiroshige's series of landscapes from the early 1830s which formed the basis of Kunisada's series which are mostly takeoffs of Hiroshige's prints, but which are also an excuse for the display of beautiful women separated from the background scenes by a cloud motif. For that reason we have added Hokusai's precedent pieces whenever we can identify the particular station featured at this site.
In one of his early sets there is an emphasis on local products. These were originally produced like surimono created for a poetry club and were often accompanied by poems.
Illustrated in a small color reproduction in Kunisada's Tokaido: Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints by Andreas Marks, Hotei Publishing, 2013, page 73, T24-43.
Sanoya Kihei (佐野屋喜兵衛) (publisher)
landscape prints (fūkeiga 風景画) (genre)