Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Stories of True Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai Number 48: Kaida Yadaemon Tomonobu using a Koto as a shield, 1847/48. Oban.
Perhaps the most popular and best known of Kuniyoshi's work, this series celebrates the heroes of one of Japan's most enduring historical events: the 47 Ronin. In 1702 Lord Asano of Ako was provoked by Kira Kozukensuke into drawing his sword in the shogun's palace, for which he was forced to take his own life. Forty seven of his retainers became Ronin - samurai without masters. They vowed revenge on their leader and attacked Kira's palace the following year, decapitating him and carrying his head to lay on Asano's grave. They in turn took their own lives. The events became a play, The Chushingura. Toshidama Gallery is planning an entire show on the Chushingura, so rich is its heritage. This print is an extraordinary design of simplicity and brevity. The writing recounts the deeds of the warrior.
The print is very slightly trimmed but otherwise in very good condition. Many of this series are poor quality, the blocks having worn out through over use. This print is a fine early impression with strong colour and crisp lines.
The print is illustrated in Weinberg, Kuniyoshi - The Faithful Samurai, Hotei Publishing 2000.