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(1797 - 1861)
The priest Nichiren, and
The apparition of a Female Ghost

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

Date:                   c. 1840s-50s
Size of sheet:      c. 25 x 34 cms / c. 10" x 13 3/8"

Fine, with pentimento (pls. read below).
Provenance: Former T. Scheiwe collection -
see: the red 'TSN' seal at bottom left of
the drawing, and the 'Reference' literature
section below.

Ref. no.: # S-0724
Price:  € 6,500.00
The priest, Nichiren, is seen painting on a terrace, only to have his subject matter - a ghost - materialize before him. The ghost at the center is drawn on the back of the sheet. To the right, an alternate version of the ghost is drawn.
Very likely, this drawing is an unused design for the set of ten prints, Illustrated Abridged Biography of Nichiren, which was published by Ise-ya Rihei in c. 1835 and which, perhaps, initially was to comprise more than the ten published prints.

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).

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 reference books:
- R. Hempel, Ukiyo-e - Die Kunst der heiteren vergänglichen Welt ... (Scheiwe collection); Villa Hügel, Essen, 1972;  catalog p. 301, ill. no. 542 (this/our drawing)
- 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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