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Hirosada (廣貞)

Description:
Jitsukawa Ensaburô I as Asojirô in Shôutsushi asagao banashi, Wakadayû Theater, Osaka
Signature:
Hirosada
Seals:
No artist seal
Publisher:
No publisher seal
Date:
5/1848
Format:
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
24.9 x 17.1 cm
Impression:
Excellent, with embossing
Condition:
Excellent color, unbacked; trimmed to image at right and lower edges, faint glue residue right edge, LL corner dog-eared, tiny filled wormhole in middle of left margin, minor marks and crease on sedge hat.
Price (USD/¥):
$265 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: HSD39

Comments:
Background

Shôutsushi asagao banashi (Recreating the True Story of Morning Glory: 生写朝顔話) was one of a number of dramatizations of a very popular love story. A successful puppet play was written by Yamada no Kagashi (Chikamatsu Tokusô) and staged at the Takemoto Theater, Osaka in 1/1832 (later adapted by kabuki). One of the better known versions (in addition to an early illustrated book) was the play Shôutsushi asagao nikki (Recreating the true diary of morning glory: 生写朝顔日記) by Chikamatsu Tokusô (originally 1812). The tale features the love between Miyagi Asojirô and Akizuki Miyuki, daughter of a wealthy samurai, who first meet while enjoying an outing in pleasure boats on the Uji River. They are immediately smitten with one another and exchange vows, but afterwards a misunderstanding leads Miyuki to believe that her father will force her to marry someone else. Unknown to her, it is actually Asojirô using an alternate name. To keep her pledge to Asojirô, she runs away and assumes the name Asagao ("Morning Glory," a reminder of a poem Asojirô had written for her). After months pass, Miyuki loses her sight from endless grieving, barely supporting herself by playing the koto (stringed instrument, resembling a horizontal harp: 琴). Coincidentally, Asojirô discovers Miyuki at an inn, but he cannot remain, as he must quickly depart on business for his lord. He leaves medicine to treat her blindness, but it is only after her near suicide over separating once again from Asojirô that Miyuki takes the palliative and restores her sight.

Design

The series title, Chûkô bûyuden (Tales of courage, loyalty, and filial piety: 忠孝武勇伝), is inscribed in the yellow carotuche at the upper right. It is one of several similar titles that Hirosada used on prints in the wake of the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô reforms: 天保改革) that had banned the publication of actor prints from 1842-1847. These print or series labels amounted to bit of transparent camouflage — no one, including government censors, was fooled into thinking that these images were anything but actor prints; still, the gesture helped satisfy the letter of the law. Note, too, that the actor's name is not given on the print, a small price to pay to skirt penalties, as ukiyo-e patrons knew the physiognomies of the actors and were intimately familiar with current stage productions.

References: WAS-4, no. 94; NKE, p. 603