Yoshitoshi, Rin Chu Kills Officer Riku Near the Temple of the Mountain Spirit

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Rin Chu Kills Officer Riku Near the Temple of the Mountain Spirit, 1886. Kakemono (Vertical Diptych).

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Yoshitoshi produced sixteen vertical oban diptychs during the 1880’s which are the pinnacle of his career. They are lavishly drawn, designed, printed and carved and are among the best ukiyo-e pieces of the second half of the nineteenth century. In Yoshitoshi: Beauty and Violence by Schapp and van den Ing, this piece is described thus:

Looking at this diptych one cannot but feel some regret at the fact that Yoshitoshi designed so few landscape prints. This scene - the burning guard house, the high mountain, the water and ice and the falling snow conveys a fantastic atmosphere. All the action is concentrated in the lower half of the diptych, with the upper half entirely filled by a huge towering mountain…

The fabulous scene depicts an episode from the Suikoden. Rin Chu has been detained in a remote army camp; the minister of war wishes him dead and for it to look like an accident. The guard Riku sets fire to the guard house but Rin Chu was not inside having taken shelter in a nearby temple. He kills Riku and Yoshitoshi pictures here the aftermath of the scene. We see the burning guard hut and Rin Chu’s bloody sword and the corpse of Riku set against the snowy landscape.

The print is a masterpiece of confident design. Yoshitoshi revels in the sparse landscape and the understated violence of the story. The piece is fine, of the first edition with burnished lacquer to the blacks and splashed gofun to the copious snow flakes that fall on the landscape and the figures. Full size with right hand margin intact, the colour is unfaded, the print having been stored as a scroll. Very good condition throughout.

The piece is given an entire page on p. 83 of van den Ing & Schaap, Beauty and Violence, Society for Japanese Arts 1992.

Signed oju Yoshitoshi hitsu. Published by Matsui Eikichi.

72cm x 25cm.