Kunisada, Okaru and Kampei from Act III of The Chushingura

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Okaru and Kampei From Act III of The Chushingura, 1848. Oban Triptych.

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A lively print, another from the Chushingura, this time from an expanded version of one of the acts. The print bristles with action, and the kimono is exquisitely decorated and printed. There is burnished decoration to the black of the costumes. The story here is one of the many complicated and extended stories attached to the tale of the 47 Ronin. 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. The story lives on in the still extant shrine, in movies and in many kabuki dramas written around the theme.

In this scene the tragic Kanpei, (a retainer), pictured right who has let his master down as a result of his desire for Okaru, readies himself to commit seppuku. Okaru successfully stays his hand by pointing out that she, not he, should be the one to die for this transgression; after all, Kanpei had abandoned his lord at her suggestion. She then persuades him to flee to her parent's house in the country where they can wait for the arrival of Oboshi Yuranosuke, Enya's chief retainer, from their home province. As they are taking their leave, Bannai (a retainer of Kozukensuke, Morono in the drama), and some of his men arrive with much bravado and try to exact revenge for slight wound Morono has received. Kanpei easily bests the lot of them, but spares their lives, not wishing to compound disloyalty with disloyalty. Kunisada shows Bannai at left and his henchmen.

A fine Kunisada triptych, vigorous and full of life, blossom decorates the top of the scene. bokashi shading brings on the shades of night. Fine impression, colour and condition. Especially outstanding is the delicacy of the shading to Okaru's kimono.  There is deeply burnished shomen-zuri decoration to Kanpei's robe.

71 x 35 cm.