Kunihisa II, Takechi Samanosuke Mitsuharu Crosses Lake Biwa

Utagawa Kunihisa II (1832 - 1891) Takechi Samanosuke Mitsuharu Crosses Lake Biwa in Omi Province, 1866. Oban Triptych.

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Kunihisa was an important pupil and son-in-law of the great Utagawa Kunisada. This print is a classic musha-e (warrior) triptych in the Kunisada tradition. It shows Akechi Mitsuharu (c. 1537 - 1582) a retainer of the Akechi clan during the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Feudal Japan. At the battle of Uchide-hama, (where he was defeated), Mitsuharu crossed the narrow neck of Lake Biwa on his famous horse Okage to escape. The scene is often depicted in Japanese woodblock prints. Mitsutoshi then performed his famous and unpredicted act of committing hara-kiri while writing a poem on a door with blood from his abdomen used as ink for his brush.

Kuniyoshi made several prints with the semi-submerged horse as its theme: The Battle of Kojima Jubei Castle of 1849 for example; or Kagesue, Takatsuna and Shigetada Crossing the Uji River of 1848 both make use of the same dramatic composition.

The print is a robust woodblock on thick paper, backed onto Japanese album paper in three separate sheets. The colour and impression are very good, fresh and not toned. There are some minor creases, otherwise the condition is very good. A copy of the print is in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Publisher: Tsujiokaya Bunsuke (Kinshôdô).

74 x 36 cm.