Jul 9, 2014
Feb 22, 2013

Act VII from the series The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers

Act VII from the series The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers

c. 1801–2

Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川 歌麿

(Japanese, c. 1754–1806)

Color woodblock print; ink and color on paper

Sheet: 39.1 x 26.3 cm (15 3/8 x 10 3/8 in.)

The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith 1985.360



This series gives a famous play a humorous spin by altering the setting and some parts of the narrative. Utamaro kept his jokes accessible by picturing the action of the original episode to the side of the main image for easy reference. In this print, a spy reading a letter is turned into a dog; both can be pronounced inu in Japanese. In the stage version of this scene, the loyal samurai Oboshi Yuranosuke reads an important letter relating details of the plot to avenge the unjust death of his master. The spy Kudayu also reads the note as it unrolls beneath the veranda. On the balcony, the jealous courtesan Okaru believes it to be a love letter from a rival. Utamaro transforms the spy/counterspy episode into a humorous scene on a warm night. A beau reads a love letter, its presence disturbing the dog lying underneath the veranda. On the balcony above, a bored courtesan shows no interest in the scene below as she fans herself to keep cool.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected].

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.