Yoshitaki, The Revenge of the Soga Brothers

Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) The Revenge of the Soga Brothers, 1875. Chuban Diptych.

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A beautiful diptych showing the actors Ichikawa Udanji I as Soga Goro and Jitsukawa Enjaku I as Soga Juro. The story was a popular subject for kabuki audiences: in 1175 Kudo Saemon Suketsune had his cousin Sukemichi assassinated in order to gain an inheritance. Eighteen years later, in 1193, Sukemichi’s two sons Juro Sukenari and Goro Tokimune revenged themselves by killing Suketsune in the course of a hunting party on Mount Fuji. Juro was killed in the fight but Goro was taken prisoner. What follows is the crux of the play’s tragedy for Japanese audiences. Although the shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo sympathised with the brothers' loyalty and was inclined to pardon Goro, he was persuaded by Suketsune’s son to execute him. The conflict between the duty of the sons and the authority of the state remains a vital key to understanding both bushido (the way of the samurai) and the feudal system of the shogunate.

A fine Osaka diptych, colourful and energetic and with the usual delicacy associated with Yoshitaki’s work. Colour, impression and condition all fine. Embossing to the blossom, burnishing to some areas.

25cm x 35cm.