Hironobu, Selection from the Five Elements

Hironobu (ca 1851 - 1872?) Selection from the Five Elements, 1866.  Deluxe Chuban Diptych.

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This terrific diptych, beautifully drawn and printed and having the jewel like quality of the best of the late Osaka prints, is from a series on the five elements, although only these two prints are known and always appear as a pair. The print on the left, represents earth, the print on the right, fire. They are a kind of mitate - prints that represent something other than what they appear to depict. Both prints show mythological scenes from the lives of Sengoku period (1467 - 1603) warriors. They are also portraits of actors in imaginary roles. The attributes of each warrior are then chosen to represent one of the five elements… complicated stories within stories as is typical of the mid century.

Reading from left to right the actors and characters are as follows: Nakamura Jakuemon I as Wada Kaminari Hachiro; Jitsukawa Yaozo I as Mokuta Shinpei; Arashi Hinosuke VII as Hosokawa Katsumoto.

The print is in fine condition with exciting and brilliant colours. The impression is excellent. Two sheets unattached. The two sheets are virtually a compendium of sophisticated woodblock printing. The details are richly and deeply embossed and the surface itself crackles with partly oxidised metallics. The outlandish subject speaks for itself.

35cm x 24cm.