Poetess Komachi Invoking the Rain

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - Poetess Komachi Invoking the Rain
The sheet comes from the series A Selection of Contemporary Fashionable Postures – Seven Paintings from the Life of Poetess Komachi (Tōsei mitate – Nana Komachi), which was published by the Aritaya publishing house. The figure of a beauty with a letter rolled into a scroll and an umbrella on a decorative background stylized in a band of clouds and the “pear skin” nashiji pattern exists in multiple variants (cf. Vm 2337) and is a compositional variant of an early 19th-century woodblock print by Toyokuni I. The print’s poor quality attests to the abundance of the edition and popularity of the theme. Kunisada elaborated the theme of paintings from the life of the poetess Ono no Komachi several times; in this case, the theme is Komachi Invoking the Rain (Amagoi Komachi), i.e. the story of the well-known 9th-century poetess who could invoke the rain after a long drought through the sheer power of her poem, saving the population from famine. Unlike the older variant (Vm 3176), the same theme is repeated here with a different gesture, different garment and a different artist’s signature. Only the publisher is the same, as the original theme was financially successful. (See Helena Honcoopová, Kunisada, Praha 2005, p. 97)
measurements: height 36 cm
width 24,5 cm
material: paper
technique: Colour woodblock print
inventory number: Vm 2337
gallery collection: Collection of Asian and African Art