Ashiyuki, Arashi Rikan II as Mashiba Hisatsugu

Gigado Ashiyuki (active 1813 - 1833) Arashi Rikan II as Mashiba Hisatsugu, 1830. Oban.

This is a great portrait by Ashiyuki, so redolent of the great age of Osaka print making before the Tempo Reforms of the early 1840’s which ended print and theatre production for several years and in effect ended the the archaic, robust style of the first wave of Osaka art. The great first wave artists of the period… Hokushu, Hokuei, and Shunshi are visible in Ashiyuki’s bold portrait. The prints of this period tend to be on the larger, oban size and are less ‘decadent’, less richly ornamented. The style is more primitive, more expressive - compare this rapid drawing to the measured, static portraits of Hirosada only a decade or so later. It tells us a great deal about the state of mind of the whole bohemian community of the city, shifting from near hysteria over their own theatre and print art to a secretive, stoic and deeply moving empathy in the later manifestation.

In this vigorous and joyous print, Ashiyuki depicts the fanatically popular kabuki actor Arashi Rikan II in the role of  Mashiba Hisatsugu. Hisatsugu is the ill-fated son of Mashiba Hisayoshi, whose name was a thinly veiled guise for the historical Toyotomi Hideyoshi (to avoid the censors' scrutiny). Due to his disreputable character, Hisatsugu is disowned by his father, who chooses his other son Hisaaki as his sole heir. Furious, Hisatsugu tries to have his brother killed. The assassination is unsuccessful, and Hisatsugu is sent to the guardianship of a retainer to correct his unruly temperament. Stubborn as ever, Hisatsugu is not subdued and, after fifty days of supervision, is finally executed.

A very fine Ashiyuki print indeed. The print is conservation mounted on mulberry paper. Colour is outstanding for a print of this age. Impression and condition are all fine.