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Japanese Art

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Scene from the "New Herbs, I" chapter, The Tale of Genji

Edo Period (1600-1868)
14 5/8 x 9 15/16 in. (37.2 x 25.2 cm)

Utagawa Kunisada I
Japan (1786 - 1864)

Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Color woodcut
Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Ralph Avery
Accession Number: 1977.152.371
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

The early-11th century Tale of Genji was a favorite theme of Edo period art. This scene refers to the problematic moment when the young Kashiwagi, the son of Genji's old friend Tô no Chûjô, catches a glimpse of one of Genji's wives, the Third Princess, whose errant cat she has chased out onto the verandah in the springtime. (Later in the story, Genji will be cuckolded by Kashiwagi, whose son the Third Princess bears.)

Although the scene shown here does not suggest that the Princess, who like all noblewomen should remain out of the sight of men, has just been chasing her cat into plain view—the cat is, after all, asleep on its own cushion—any woman depicted in court robes on a verandah with a cat is invariably the Third Princess. The two young men in court robes may therefore be identified as Kashiwagi and his companion, Genji's son Yûgiri.

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