36 Good and Evil Beauties
This print shows Asaoka, the tragic heroine of the kabuki drama, Jitsuroku Sendai Hagi. The plot involves Asaoka caring for the child heir to the powerful Date clan. Despite her best efforts there is a plot to poison him led by the evil Harada Kai. When a retainer brings her own son, Chiyomatsu to visit, the plan to keep the child heir hidden is revealed and the vultures circle. Her loyalty to her young charge is so great she denies her own beloved son in favour of the heir, but amid suspicions the play ends with the announcement that someone has been poisoned.
The series usually shows women of history. The portrait is of an anonymous female rather than a kabuki (male actor) in role. Kunichika pictures her with a box of sweets while her charge, Kamechiyo looks on adoringly. The print declares the great devotion and piety of Asaoka in placing the young heir before her own son. There were several of these stories of loyalty that were hugely popular in Edo Japan at the time.
Condition: Margins as shown, good condition, backed with Edo era paper.
Publisher: Morimoto Junzaburo.