Yoshitaki, Tora Gozen from Soga Monogatari

Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) Tora Gozen from Soga Monogatari, ca1850. Deluxe Chuban.

This jewel of a print, exudes beauty and luxury, from the sparkling richness of the metallics on the robe to the sombre, autumnal colours, the streaks of rain and the tragic face of the popular heroine Tora Gozen who contemplates the night and the death of her lover, the folk hero Juro, one of the two Soga brothers.

In the twelfth century two rival lords fell out, Lord Kuto killed Lord Ito who left two infant boys, Juro and Goro. Their mother remarried and they took their stepfather’s name Soga. At five, they vowed revenge on their father’s death and by maturity they were committed to carrying out the plan. In 1192 on the occasion of a hunting party, they ambushed Kuto, slaying him in his tent. They were set upon by Kuto’s retainers who killed Juro and captured Goro. Despite the justice of their case, Goro was executed on the orders of the Shogun. Tora Gozen took revenge on Kuto’s retainers and later became a nun. She became a heroine of Japanese self sacrifice and duty. There is a good summary of the Soga Brothers story here.

Yoshitaki uses a similar pose to an earlier print by Hiroshige of the same subject. His print is a superb study in tragedy and of an unidentified actor who takes the role in the kabuki drama Soga Monogatari. Yoshitaki was the leading and most prolific artist of the final phase of the Osaka school of prints. He was hugely skillful and enjoyed considerable success.

This deluxe chuban print is in fine condition, rich with colour, burnishing and metallics. Good impression and colour.

26cm x 20cm.