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Not currently on display at the V&A

The Tale of Genji

Woodblock Print
1843-1847 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This 'uchiwa-e' (rigid fan print) design by Hiroshige is from a series of scenes from classical literature. However, Hiroshige put them into contemporary settings. This print illustrates the Akashi chapter of The Tale of Genji (early 11th century). The text in the cartouche explains that Murasaki Shikibu wrote the tale while in seclusion at the Ishiyama Temple. She started to write on the 15th day of the eighth month, when her mind was as clear as the August moon reflected on Lake Biwa.

Here you can see Prince Genji dressed in elaborate robes and sitting in a boat. The indeterminate background is typical of Hiroshige's work. The artist has depicted him with a small peak of hair just above his forehead. This is similar to how Genji is portrayed in the 'Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji'. This popular parody of The Tale of Genji was written by Ryutei Tanehiko and illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada I. It was published in instalments from 1829 to 1842, but was then suppressed as part of the Tenpo Reforms.

An interesting aspect of this print is the identification of Prince Genji in the yellow cartouche. This gives his name as Zaigo Chujo Minamoto no Hikaru. Minamoto no Hikaru, the 'Shining (Prince) of the Minamoto (Family)', is appropriate for Prince Genji. Zaigo Chujo, however, is the court title of Ariwara no Narihira, the hero of the earlier Tales of Ise. This confusion of names reflects how these two famous romantic figures of the Heian period (794-1185) were often combined in popular culture in the 19th century.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleIllustrations of Stories of Ancient Times (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Colour print from woodblocks
Brief Description
Woodblock print, Utagawa Hiroshige I; 'The Tale of Genji', from the series 'Illustrations of Stories of Ancient Times'; fan print, Japanese, 1843-1847
Physical Description
Fan print, aiban size. Artist signature: Hiroshige ga. Publisher mark: Tsujiya Yasubei. Censor seal: Kinugasa.
Dimensions
  • Approx. height: 220mm
  • Approx. width: 290mm
Style
Summary
This 'uchiwa-e' (rigid fan print) design by Hiroshige is from a series of scenes from classical literature. However, Hiroshige put them into contemporary settings. This print illustrates the Akashi chapter of The Tale of Genji (early 11th century). The text in the cartouche explains that Murasaki Shikibu wrote the tale while in seclusion at the Ishiyama Temple. She started to write on the 15th day of the eighth month, when her mind was as clear as the August moon reflected on Lake Biwa.



Here you can see Prince Genji dressed in elaborate robes and sitting in a boat. The indeterminate background is typical of Hiroshige's work. The artist has depicted him with a small peak of hair just above his forehead. This is similar to how Genji is portrayed in the 'Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji'. This popular parody of The Tale of Genji was written by Ryutei Tanehiko and illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada I. It was published in instalments from 1829 to 1842, but was then suppressed as part of the Tenpo Reforms.



An interesting aspect of this print is the identification of Prince Genji in the yellow cartouche. This gives his name as Zaigo Chujo Minamoto no Hikaru. Minamoto no Hikaru, the 'Shining (Prince) of the Minamoto (Family)', is appropriate for Prince Genji. Zaigo Chujo, however, is the court title of Ariwara no Narihira, the hero of the earlier Tales of Ise. This confusion of names reflects how these two famous romantic figures of the Heian period (794-1185) were often combined in popular culture in the 19th century.
Collection
Accession Number
E.541-1911

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record createdNovember 20, 2003
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