Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Number 33 (卅三) from the series Magic Lantern Slides of That Romantic Purple Figure (Sono sugata yukari no utsushi-e - 其姿紫の写絵) 

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Dates: 1851,created
Dimensions: 14.0 in,10.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: color woodblock print; ōban yoko-e

Signed: Ichiyōsai Toyokuni ga
Artist's seal: toshidama
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei
(Marks 180 - seal 24-058)
Censor: Kinugasa and Murata

Related links: Kunisada Project - the whole series; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University; Tokyo Metropolitan Library; National Diet Library; Rijksmuseum; National Museums of Scotland; Victoria and Albert Museum; Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery;

Physical description:

This is print #33, Fuji no Uraba, in a series of 54. They relate to the modern Genji tales. It is interesting to note that the publisher Izumiya Ichibei adopted a particular seal which has the appearance of being bracketed by a faux-Genji mon. As far as we can tell this seal only appears on this series.

If you use the enlargement tool offered by this site you will notice the small figures in the boat in the background along the left edge of the image. Once blown up to a larger size you will see a figure seated toward the back of the boat. He is wearing a particularly high collar, a costume often seen on the figure of Mitsuuji in other Rustic Genji prints.

Another issue raised by this print is the subject of how difficult it is to translate Japanese titles. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston refers to this series as Magic Lantern Slides of That Romantic Purple Figure, while Marks translates it as His Figure: Related Copies of Other Pictures. The National Museums of Scotland give yet another translation: Faithful Depictions of That Splendid Figure.


Note that in the middle ground, in the water, visually near the standing figure in the boat, are a pair of oshidori or Mandarin ducks, a symbol of marital fidelity. The inclusion of these ducks is probably not random, but rather a hint to what the theme of this print really is.


Illustrated in color in Marks Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints as #82, p. 127.