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Act XI: The storming of Moronao’s mansion from the series Pictorial Siblings to The Treasury of Loyal Retainers

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Act XI: The storming of Moronao's mansion

from the series

Pictorial Siblings to the Treasury of Loyal Retainers

by Utagawa Kunisada, 1859


 

detail of circular inset
IHL Cat. #635

About This Print

This print pictures two maids tickling a third maid in a parody of the third scene in act XI of the play Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers).  The circular inset (see detail above) shows the actual scene from act XI in which the ronin, after having staged a night attack on Moronao's mansion, drag Moronao from his hiding place.  They will give him the same sword their master used to commit suicide and invite him to do the same.  When he refuses he will be beheaded.  (Perhaps being beheaded is a better way to die than being tickled to death, as in the print's scene.  It certainly is quicker.)

It is one of twelve prints, shown below, from the series titled Pictorial Siblings to The Treasury of Royal Retainers.

About the Series Pictorial Siblings to The Treasury of Loyal Retainers (Chūshingura e-kyōdai)

Source: The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 218.

"Perhaps no artist was more prolific in reworking the Chūshingura story than Kunisada, who presented the tale as history, as biography, as a star vehicle for noted actors, and – as seen here – in irreverent parodies.  Playing with the venerated theme of warrior loyalty, this series juxtaposes moments of high drama from the tale of revenge with light-hearted activities in the daily lives of contemporary women.  The series was produced in 1859 when the printmakers’ craft was at a pinnacle.  New, more opaque pigments were available to produce saturated colors, and block carvers had achieved remarkable virtuosity in transferring the artist’s designs into woodblocks.  The embossing and hand-wiped shaded washes indicate that the series was printed as a deluxe edition."

To read more about the representations of Chūshingura in woodblock prints see the article on this site Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers) in Woodblock Prints.

 
Act I (Shodan 初段)

Act II (Nidanme 弐段目)
 
Act III (Sandanme 三段目)

Act IV (Yondanme 四段目)

 
Act V (Godanme 五段目)

Act VI (Rokudanme 六段目)
 
Act VII (Nanadanme 七段目)
 
Act VIII (Hachidanme 八段目)

 
Act IX (Kyūdanme 九段目)
 
Act X (Jūdanme 十段目)

Act XI (Jūichidanme 十一段目)

 
Finale: The withdrawal after the Night Attack
(Youchi hikitori taibi)



Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #635
 Title  Act XI Jūichidanme (The storming of Moronao's mansion)  十一段目
 Series  Pictorial Siblings to The Treasury of Royal Retainers (忠臣蔵絵兄弟 Chūshingura e-kyōdai).  The series title is also seen translated as Matching Pictures with the Chūshingura.)
 Artist
 Utagawa Kunisada I (1786–1865)
 Signature
 豊国画 Toyokuni ga, in toshidama cartouche
 Seal
 Publication Date
 January 1859 
 Publisher
seal reading: 森, 馬貳, 森治 (Mori, Ba Ni, Moriji)
森屋 治兵衛 Moriya Jihei (Kinshindō) [Marks: 21-150; pub. ref. 353]
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  good
 Condition  good - slightly rubbed and soiled; minor marks and flaws
 Genre  ukiyo-e; mitate
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  oban
 H x W Paper  14 1/2 x 10 in. (36.8 x 25.4 cm)
 Collections This Print  The Portland Art Museum 77.37.10; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 100-1654; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 5245-003-11; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University ACNo. 161-00-011, 102-00-011, arcUP2657; National Diet Library ndljp/pid/1304144; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 00.867

 Reference Literature
 The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 218.

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