Rare Japanese Woodblock Memorial Print. Unsigned. 1852 Edo.
13 1/2 x 9 3/8 ins. (34.3 x 23.8 cms) This unusual shini-e (memorial print) records the death of the great actor Nakamura Utaemon (1796-1852) giving the date of his death as 17th. February 1852 (Kaiei 5). On the website ukiyo-e.org there are 5 examples of the design, all in Japanese museums. Unfortunately there are no explanations of the design, e.g. Utaemon is on the right but who is on the left etc. It is very unusual for a shini-e most of which conform to a strict formula showing the deceased in Buddhist kimono with an incense burner the smoke from which turns into a butterfly. It is very well-printed with use of lead based pigments on the left hand figure. If anyone has an explanation of the design we would like to know.
Condition is good with no fading, there is the expected oxidisation of the lead-based pigments on the left hand figure. There are neat repairs to album stitching holes on the right edge and a few repairs to very tiny worm holes. A former owner has brush written the actor's name just to the right of Utaemon's head.
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