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

Print: Morning Glory (Asagao - 朝かほ) from the series Modern Scenes of Summer (Tōsei natsu geshiki - 當世夏景色)

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Dates: created,1826
Dimensions: 9.5 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Color woodblock

Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
Publisher: Matsumura Tatsuemon
(Marks 311 - seal 03-009)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University; Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden;

Physical description:

Sebastian Izzard in his Kunisada's World wrote about the small series that this print comes from. It was based on the success of a previous series.

"Kunisada's adoption of a new drawing style in the mid-1820s was followed by his publication of several series featuring half-length portraits of beauties. Of these the 'Modern Views of Spring' is the earliest. It portrays five women from the different social backgrounds, accompanied with a pictorial vignette bordered by a large, stylized Chinese character, the sada of Kunisada's name. The vignettes contain images associated with the New Year... The series is linked to the Yoshiwara... The newly imported Berlin blue is used sparingly throughout the series, indicating that it belongs to the late Bunsei era rather than the early Tempo. The date is confirmed by the fact that these prints are among those collected by Philipp Franz von Siebold, who is thought to have purchased most of them on a visit he made to Edo in 1826." (Izzard, pp. 100-101)

"The success of 'Modern Views of Spring'... led to the publication of a set of five prints depicting beauties of summer. The angular drawing style here becomes more pronounced, as does the length of the face in proportion to the body." (Ibid., p. 102)

This print from the Lyon Collection is from that second set of five prints.


Another copy of this print can be found in the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden. It is illustrated in The Ear Catches the Eye: Music in Japanese Prints in color on page 170. The text reads: "A geisha interrupts her shamisen playing to read over the text of her next song."