Triptych of vertical oban, colour woodblock prints. Signed Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga in gourd-shaped Toshidama seal. Two red Yoshikiri seals. Published by Kakumoto-ya Kinjiro. Censors: Fuku and Muramatsu (1849-1853). Very good impressions and colour, in very good condition; overall dimensions 375 x 755 mm.
The triptych is related to the play Higashiyama sakura z?shi ?????, performed at the Nakamura Theater in the 8th month of 1851. The characters are, from right to left, Sugibae, Sakingo, Fuji no Kata, Yamana Sozen.
Apparently a quite rare triptych. I was not able to find any impression of any of the three sheets in books or on the web. I only found two triptychs by Kunisada depicting scenes of the same play, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art: inv. 126.96.36.199A,B and 188.8.131.52A-C
The son of a silk-dyer, at the age of fourteen Kuniyoshi joined the Utagawa school, then headed by Toyokuni I. Kuniyoshi achieved his commercial and artistic breakthrough in 1827 with the first designs of the series the 108 heroes of the Suikoden. This series, based on an old Chinese novel from the 14th century, was about rebels and bandits. The artist designed many other successful prints of warriors and heroes and was even nicknamed Warrior print Kuniyoshi, but in fact he contributed to every branch of Ukiyo-e: theatrical prints, legendary and historical subjects, women, landscapes, comics, surimono, fan-prints and book-illustrations.