Welcome to the May 2020 exhibition of Japanese prints at the Toshidama Gallery. It is self evident that this is a distressing time for us all, many of us will know of someone who has been affected by illness or lost someone close. Businesses are finding supply chains and commercial activities severely compromised and it is hard to be enthusiastic perhaps about anything. We are proud though to be able to extend some new prints at this time, survivors of world wars, fire storms, earthquakes, plagues and the seemingly relentlessly hostile tide of history.
I am very intrigued by one ‘survivor’, Shibakuni’s Ichikawa Danzo V as Miuranosuke Yoshimura from 1824. This print seems to be alone in its survival… I can find no other copies or records of such a print anywhere. There are two other prints from this battledore series in the MFA and British Museum respectively, this print joins them to complete a short series commemorating a kabuki performance in Osaka nearly two hundred years ago.
There is also a rare Yoshitoshi triptych from 1866 which commemorates Hideyoshi’s ill-fated invasion of Korea, this print also looks back… stylistically, towards Kuniyoshi and historically towards the heroes of Japan’s martial, heroic past. Kuniyoshi is represented by a care worn print of the greatest duo of Japanese heroism, Yoshitsune and Benkei, sailing into battle with Yoshitsune’s nineteen retainers, a tremendous and extremely influential design.
We have a fabulous tattoo print of Ichimura Uzaemon XIII as Tachibana no Tsurukichi, from An Untitled Set of Actors with Poems, this series is sometimes overlooked but is one of Kunisada’s last works and also one of his finest and most considered. We are also showing another print from that series, Kawarazaki Gonjūrō I as Aku Shichibee Kagekiyo. We have another print from Kunisada’s most highly regarded and technically lavish series, Toyokuni Manga Zue, this print with its rich printing and laden mica represents Sawamura Tanosuke III as Kiritaro creating a spell, with a beautifully realised bat falling in the dark background.
It goes without saying that we wish all our clients and site visitors well at such a difficult time. I hope that you find the show interesting and if you wish to purchase a print, we are finding that international couriers are still working as normal with only slight delays.