Hirosada, The Story of Taro, Scion of the Soma Clan

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) The Story of Taro, Scion of the Soma Clan, 1850. Deluxe chuban triptych.

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This is one of the finest Osaka triptychs I have held. It ripples with design brilliance, outstanding block cutting, dazzling colour and complex texture. The print uses nearly every deluxe technique available at the time, a really outstanding piece.

The central figure in the coiling column of smoke that forms the ghost of Uto Yasukata is a masterpiece of nineteenth century invention with no real precedent that I can think of, predicting as it does the art-nouveau designs of Alphonse Mucha or Parisian metro stations. A really great and exceptionally rare Osaka triptych of outstanding quality.

The print illustrates the play Soma taro mebae bundan, "The Story of Taro, Scion of the Soma Clan". Uto Yasukata played by Arashi Rikaku II (centre sheet), was the son of a retainer of the courtier  Taira no Masakado, a legendary figure in Japanese history. Yasukata was forced to commit suicide after the defeat of Masakado. In this scene, his ghost appears to Masakado’s children, Soma Taro on the right (played by Onoe Tamizo II) and his sister Takiyasha (on the left, played by Arashi Rikan III). His ghost urges them to restore the family's fortune and avenge their father’s death. As a portent, Takiyasha is shown after a mystical retreat at mount Tsukuba, holding an edged spear. On the right hand sheet the metallic encrusted Taro reveals the brocaded banner of the Soma clan.

A very exceptional Hirosada triptych, colour and impression are very fine. Condition overall is very good, the centre sheet has been trimmed after being bound in an album but none of the drawing is missing. The print is very rare. The only other impression that I know of is a private collection and illustrated in the California State University monograph by Roger Keyes, (1984) where it is shown full page and in colour on page 51.

Published by Kashimado.

51 x 24 cm.