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(1797 - 1861)
Three women in a room

Preparatory brush drawing; sumi (black ink) on thin paper.

Date:                   c. 1840s-50s
Size of sheet:      c. 23. 5 x 32 cms / c. 9 1/4" x 12 1/2"

Fine, with pentimento (pls. read below).
Provenance: Kuniyoshi's studio.

Two more preliminary drawings for fan prints, by KYOSAI, are
shown in this gallery section ('previous page' button) , as well.

Ref. no.: # S-0084
Price:  € 6,500.00
The scene shows three women in an interior (a tea house?), one sitting, a mirror in her hands making up her face. Next to her stands a woman holding a fan in her right hand. To the right, a servant approaches carrying what looks like a cup of tea. A kettle with hot water can be seen at the outmost right margin of the fan.
The current version of the standing woman's face is drawn on a little piece of paper - a so-called pentimento -, attached to the main sheet, underneath of which - when lifted - the previous version of the head can be seen: the head now is turned to the opposite direction. Shortcuts in ink all over the drawing are indications by the artist to the printers which colors he wanted to be applied to the designated areas.

By far the largest body of surviving preparatory drawings for Japanese prints is formed by the brush work of Kuniyoshi. It seems that his studio preserved and systematically collected the master’s drawings to an extent unparalleled by other schools, to serve as teaching material for his many students. The drawings were initially bound in numerous albums inscribed Kuniyoshi sô ('Kuniyoshi’s drafts') which then may have been bought by the French dealer, BING, in the early 1880s.
Two of the albums were directly bought by the V&A MUSEUM in London in 1889, many others by the Parisian collector EMILE JAVAL. From there, many were acquired by the Dutch collector F. LIEFTINCK from the dealer FELIX TIKOTIN. These were finally acquired by the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, in 1958. Eight other albums were reportedly in the collection of Mr. THOMAS STAUFFER of Chicago as late as in the 1960s (information taken from the sources listed below).

For a similar group of drawings for fan prints by Kuniyoshi, see: Dessins et Livres Japonais des XVIIIe et XIXe Siècles (Nathan Chaikin collection), Geneva, 1972; cat. nos.# 79 - 81.

Detailed information on Kuniyoshi’s shita-e, his style and artistic approach, as well as on the origins of the drawings, is given by Matthi Forrer in his
study of the holdings in the Museum of Ethnology at Leiden, NL. We highly recommend the following books:
- M. Forrer, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology Leiden; The Hague, 1988.
- B.W. Robinson, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - in the collection of Ferd. Lieftinck of Haren, Holland; Groningen, 1953.
- Fagioli, Utagawa Kuniyoshi: 90 disegni; Firenze, 1985.
- Fagioli, Kuniyoshi - an appreciation of his drawings; in: ANDON no. 21; 1986.

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