Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ‘Spirit of the Cat Woman: Okabe’, ca. 1842, Ronin Gallery

Condition: Very good color, impression and state, light album backing with calligraphy
Seals: Mura (censor seal)

Subject illustrated: Catalogue of the Van Gogh Museum's Collection of Japanese Prints. Pl 415
In Kuniyoshi's time, it was believed that when a girl visited a temple after dark, she took the risk of being greeted by an old woman who would offer her to stay the night. Once inside the house, the old woman would become a witch and devour her. Therefore, a cat around a temples could be the witch in a cat form.

Signature: Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga

Publisher: Ibaya

About Utagawa Kuniyoshi

The son of silk dyer, little is known about Ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi's early years, though he is said to have shown remarkable talent from a young age. At age 14 he was accepted to study woodblock printing under Utagawa Toyokuni I and would become one of his most successful students. In direct contrast to Hiroshige and Hokusai's peaceful views of a scenic Japan published in the 1830s and ‘40s, the following decades saw a rise in popular taste for the fierce, fearsome and fantastical in ukiyo-e, which Kuniyoshi embraced. In 1814, he left Toyokuni’s studio to pursue a career as an independent artist. Initially, he had little success, selling tatami mats in order to support himself. His fortunes changed in 1827 with his dramatic series 108 Heroes of the Suikoden, and from that point on, he became known for portrayals of famous samurai and legendary heroes. Kuniyoshi also worked in in other print genres, producing landscapes and bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women).

— Submitted by Ronin Gallery

Japanese, 1797-1861, Japan, based in Japan