In this piece, Kunichika represents the strong woman Okane; here she is, wooden basin in one hand, staring distractedly at the departing rear end of a galloping horse. There are two visual references that stand out: firstly, the horse, almost invisible at first glance because of the size of the leg and tail and its peculiar cropping, surely evokes Hiroshige’s experimental work with apparently random framing, especially the print of Shinjuku from the series 100 Famous views of Edoin 1856. Secondly the relationship of the woman to the wooden pail. Okane holds the heavy pail, self-possessed, she is an active participant, going about her business.
Okane lived eight hundred years ago. Whilst taking a walk, she was nearly knocked over by a runaway horse. Stepping on its reins she effortlessly restrained the animal and was thereafter famous for her great feats of physical strength.
Amy Reigle Newland devoted a whole paragraph on page 18 to the significance of this series, i.e., Zen-aku sanjūroku bijin, at the beginning of her book on Kunichika: "Thirty-six good and evil beauties (Zen-aku sanjūroku bijin)... of 1876 is arguably one of Kunichika's most accomplished forays into bijinga. The quality of printing is superb. His treatment of the subject is fluid, the women portrayed energetic, wild, their poses at times reminiscent of those encountered in the work of earlier artists like Kuniyoshi and Kunisada, and in his own actor prints... Each sheet in Thirty-six good and evil beauties illustrates a famous woman from distant or more recent history with an explanatory cartouche above by a contemporary writer."
Condition: Margins as shown, very good condition, not backed, some dirt.
Publisher: Sawamuraya Seikichi