Yoshikazu, A Mirror of Our Country's Generals - Taiara no Tadamori

Utagawa Yoshikazu (1833 - 1904) A Mirror of Our Country’s Generals: Taiara no Tadamori, 1858.

Taira no Tadamori (1096 - 1153) was a great figure from Japanese history... a Taira clan samurai, governor of various provinces and the first samurai to serve the Emperor directly at court. There are many ukiyo-e portraits of him and he is still remembered today in Japan as the man who oversaw the construction of the longest wooden building in the world: the Sanjusangen-do temple in Kyoto. An extraordinary building, it contains one thousand statues of the deity Kannon of which an incredible 124 date from the original construction.

This is a magnificent print. Tadamori is pictured in the conventional robes of court and yet the huge abstract bulk of the figure in burnished black ink seems to burst out of the design.  The sword that he grasps cuts a striking diagonal across the black mass of his robes and the calligraphy above seems to dance off the page. Yoshikazu contrasts the great heaviness of the robes with delicate sprig like designs in white at the base. The most striking of this series and a very fine print indeed.

The colour and impression are very fine, there is some scuffing to the lower left of the print. Burnishing to the robes and fine shading to the background.

Signed with kiri seal of Kuniyoshi studio.

This series is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.