Yoshitoshi, Successive Generations of Japanese Emperors

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Successive Generations of Japanese Emperors (Kakoku rendai kina) 1878. Oban Triptych.

We are very fortunate to have acquired this piece. Yoshitoshi’s triptych Successive Generations of Japanese Emperors is a previously unknown and unrecorded piece of work that is absent from all literature on the artist.

This unique piece of work has a strange history which needs further research to fully disentangle. What is known is that Yoshitoshi produced another triptych of similar title (Historical lineage of the Emperors and Empresses; and some of the Famous Loyal Followers of Japan, listed in Roger Keyes #408), and of a similar scene, published by the same publisher,  Kobayashi Tetsujiro, in the same year, 1878.

What is not known is why the second print was made and why the first print was almost certainly withdrawn - hence there being no previous record of it. At this stage, one could speculate that the first edition (this one), contained some allusion or representation that was at odds with the still sensitive subject of Japanese history and that either through tact or from governmental pressure, the publisher was obliged to withdraw it.

Either way, this print is almost unique in there being no previous records relating to its history or production. It is a fine piece of work, complex and finely drawn, the surface littered with carefully chosen patches of burnishing. The colour and impression are very fine, the condition is quite excellent and the print is untrimmed. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a unique Yoshitoshi.

Signed oju Taiso Yoshitoshi ga. Published by Kobayashi Tetsujiro.