This woodblock print depicts four richly-clad women at a river. It was produced by the Japanese woodblock artist Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900), carved by Hori-ei and published by Kiya Sojiro in Tokyo, Japan, in February 1868.The scene is probably a Genji-e, or illustration of the Genji story. A popular subject for many Japanese print artists in the nineteenth century, 'The Tale of Genji', the classical Japanese novel by Lady Murasaki Shikibu of the late Heian period (794-1185 AD), detailed the lengthy, often complex love adventures of the novel's central character, Prince Genji. The story spawned many parodies, illustrations of which were also prevalent and often termed mitate-e.The print is probably the right-hand panel of an original triptych; a work of art comprised of three distinct panels. In this image, a beautiful young woman holds a sword aloft while three girls play under a cherry blossom on the far bank of a river. The women are likely to be Genji's attendants, making it likely that Genji himself would have been depicted in the central panel of the triptych. Additional scenes from the tale would have featured in the left panel of the work.

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  • Title: The Tale of Genji
  • Date Created: 1868
  • Physical Dimensions: w252 x h365 mm
  • Type: Object
  • Rights: Copyright expired, Source: Museum Victoria / Artist: Toyohara Kunichika, Copyright expired, Source: Museum Victoria / Artist: Toyohara Kunichika
  • External Link: Museum Victoria Collections
  • Medium: Print; Ink on Paper
  • Themes: prints, Japanese Art
  • Artist biography: Toyohara Kunichika (born Oshima Yasohachi) became a pupil of a Ukiyo-e master Chikanobu at the age of 11 or 12, and at the age of 13 became an apprentice to Utagawa Kunisada. Kunichika's favourite subjects were Kabuki actors and scenes from popular plays of the time.In 1867, one year before the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kunichika received an official commission from the government of Japan to contribute to that year's Universelle Exposition in Paris. His prints were also exhibited at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.
  • Artist: Toyohara Kunichika