Ashiyuki, Ichikawa Danzo V as Kuranosuke

Gigado Ashiyuki (active 1813 - 1833) Ichikawa Danzo V as Kuranosuke, 1824. Oban.

A very nice, very delicate print by the highly valued Osaka artist, Ashiyuki. Ashiyuki shows the actor Ichikawa Danzo V as Oishi Kuranosuke. The print is in the ‘archaic’ style… a style that crossed the boundaries between Edo and Osaka and predates the more distinctive Osaka School style of the mid-century. In 1702 Lord Asano of Ako was provoked by Kira Kozukensuke into drawing his sword in the shogun's palace, for which he was forced to take his own life. Forty seven of his retainers became Ronin - samurai without masters. They vowed revenge on their leader and attacked Kira's palace the following year, decapitating him and carrying his head to lay on Asano's grave. They in turn took their own lives. Because of censorship laws prevailing at the time, direct reference to the action was forbidden, The Chushingura being the name of the plays and literature surrounding the historical event.

Oishi Yoshio was the chamberlain to Lord Asano; he is known as the leader of the rebellious 47 Ronin, and thus the hero of the Chushingura. Kuranosuke is one of the most famous and one of the most revered of the conflicted Japanese heroes of the ukiyo-e period. Driven to certain death by his unswerving loyalty to a dead master, his and his fellows made a total sacrifice of their own lives and by extension that of their families. So much tragedy stemming from an act that in other cultures even at the time, would have gone unnoticed or at best unpunished. These themes of death and vendetta underpin a vast amount of ukiyo-e... Ashiyuki pictures the tragic hero literally conflicted, the landscape itself is tilted at a nightmarish angle, Danzo stares out of the print at us, anxious, tense, ready to spring. He carries two great swords and a bow slung over his shoulder.

Full size, colour, condition and impression are very good. Retains Japanese album paper backing.

36.5 x 24.5 cm.