Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country: Hitsu-no-Saishô Haruhira, 1842. Chuban.
A very fine and unusual print by Kuniyoshi. The chuban format is rare in Kuniyoshi’s work, although he made several series of the 'morally improving' illustrations to this famous book of moral tales. The book entitled The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety was written by the Guo Jujing during the Yuan Dynasty. It recounts the self-sacrificing behaviour of twenty-four Chinese children who improved their parents’ lives or peacefully honoured their deceased parents. This series of prints portrays a more warlike lot of children from Japanese history and legend - several free their parents from captivity or avenge their parents’ deaths. These exemplars of confucian duty would have pleased the censors and there is speculation that they may have found an audience with parents as gifts to daughters, (along with volumes of explicit shunga).
In this strange image we see the now forgotten Hitsu-no-Saisho Haruhira rescuing his father who has been punished by the Emperor by being made to act as a lighthouse… this story, as are all of them, is apocryphal.
It is a very good print, there is great richness to it and the quality of the printing is outstanding. Similar in design to the One Hundred Poets series which was in the oban format.
Publisher: Murata-ya Tetsu.
18.5 x 24 cm.