Mitate-e by Utamaro

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Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川歌麿) (1753-1806), Women restrain a young man who has struck down an older rival, a parody of the first scene in Chushingura, no date, ca. 1795/95. Woodblock print (color). Format: Ôban tate-e triptych. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2009.00773. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin.

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Although the exact title of this triptych by the wonderful Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro has not been identified, specialist Sebastian Izzard recognized it as one of his many parody pictures or mitate-e.

Mitate-e require considerable understanding of the classics to recognize the original subject matter and for this reason were often used as intellectual games, providing those privy to such information with a sense of belonging to a special intellectual group. The most popular Japanese mitate were taken from Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji); Ise Monogatari (The Tales of Ise); and the Chushingura.“— JAANUS, the on-line Dictionary of Japanese Architectural and Art Historical Terminology

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