Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Kakitsu (家橘) (poetry name of Ichimura Uzaemon XIII [市村羽左衛門]), from the series Seven Popular Idols of the Present Day, a Parody of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove - Chikurin shichikenjin no mitate (竹林七賢の見立), Tōsei ryūkō shichi enjin (当時流光七艶人)  

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Dates: 1862,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,13.8 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Kiō Toyokuni hitsu
Publisher: Izutsuya Shōkichi
Marks 188 - seal 24-055
Carver: Katada Chōjirō (Fukagawa Hori Chō)

Related links: MFA Boston; Waseda University; Tokyo Metropolitan Library; Lyon Collection - another print from this series;Mead Art Museum, Amherst College - another print from this series; Hankyu Culture Foundation;

Physical description:

Who were the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove?

[The] "Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, also called Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove... [were] a group of Chinese scholars and poets of the mid-3rd century ad who banded together to escape from the hypocrisy and danger of the political world of government officialdom to a life of drinking wine and writing verse in the country. Their retreat was typical of the Daoist-oriented qingtan (“pure conversation”) movement that advocated freedom of individual expression and hedonistic escape from the corrupt court politics of the short-lived Wei dynasty (ad 220–265/266; Three Kingdoms period).

The group of friends gathered in a bamboo grove near the country estate of the writer and alchemist Ji Kang in Shanyang (in the south of present-day Henan province). Ji’s independent thinking and scorn for court custom led to his execution by the state, which was strongly protested by his several thousand followers; his execution testifies to the very real dangers that forced the Sages’ retirement from palace life....

The tensions that caused the forced retirement of the Seven Sages are revealed in their writings and those of other eremitic poets of the time. Their poems and essays frequently centre on the impossibility of palace life for the scholar (with criticisms of the court sometimes necessarily veiled in allegory) and the pleasures and hardships of country life. The retirement of the Seven Sages served as a model for that of later Chinese writers living in troubled times."

Quoted from The Encylopedia Britannica.