Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 01/01/1797 – 04/14/1861)
Third Princess (Nyosan no miya) from The Tale of Genji playing with her cat
9.75 in x 28.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Chōōrō Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi (Marks 294 - seal 08-088)
Art Institute of Chicago - Buncho print of this same theme
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Harunobu example A beauty in fabulous kimono pushes aside heavy drapery as she dangles a fluffy ball for a cat wearing a kerchief-collar.
David Waterhouse wrote: "Nyosan-no-miya (or Onna San-no-miya, Lady of the Third Palace') was the third daughter of Retired Emperor Suzuka. In the novel she became the wife of Prince Genji; but meanwhile carried on an affair with Kashiwagi, the son of Genji's friend Tō no Chūjō, and by him gave birth to a boy, Kaoru. Ch. 34 is mainly about her; and at the end of it Kashiwagi, who cannot let it be known that he is Kaoru's father, and cannot visit Nyosan-no-miya, seeks consolation by obtaining and fondling her pet cat instead."
"A pivotal moment in Tale of Genji... occurs when he young courtier Kashiwagi accidentally glimpses the Third Princess (Niyosan no Miya), Prince Genji's wife, and instantly falls passionately in love with her. The scene occurs in chapter 34, "New Herbs: Part One" (Wakana no Jō, at Prince Genji's mansion. Young courtiers, led by Kashiwagi and Yūgiri, are playing a kind of football (kemari) under blossoming cherry trees, while Genji watches from the verandah. Suddenly there is a commotion: a pet cat on a lead, chased by a larger cat, runs out onto the verandah, with ladies-in-waiting in pursuit. The cat's lead catches in one of the hanging blinds, pulling the blind aside just long enough for Kashiwagi to catch sight of the Third Princess standing inside the room. For such a high-ranking woman to allow herself to be seen by a man was a grave lapse of propriety, made even worse by the fact that she was standing rather than seated."
Quoted from: The Actor's Image: Print Makers of the Katsukawa School, #18, p. 84.
The Third Princess has blackened her teeth and is wearing artificial eyebrows toward the top of her forehead after shaving off her real ones. This was referred to as okimayu (置眉) and was also practiced by some men of high rank at the Heian court. Tooth blackening is known as ohaguro (お歯黒).
Maruya Jinpachi (丸屋甚八) (publisher)
Kakemono-e - 掛物絵 (genre)
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
Genji related prints (Genji-e - 源氏絵) (genre)