Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Heroic Stories of the Taiheiki, #32: Shimura Masazo Katsutoyo. 1848 Oban.
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The Taiheiki was written in the late fourteenth century and recounts a series of wars between the Northern Court of Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and the Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino. However, this series of prints portrays characters from the civil wars of the sixteenth century, with the participants' names altered. Most of the prints bear numbers within circles. Ironically given the bloody nature of the prints, the alternative title of the series is Heroes of the Great Peace. This striking print is of Shimura Masazo Katsutoyo, portrayed here as a sumo wrestler complete with ceremonial fringed loincloth. Shimura was a brave retainer of the fearsome General Sato Masakiyo also known as the Devil’s General for his ferocity and courage.
This is another fine Kuniyoshi. Katsutoyo shines out from the design as a burly and angry character, his body retaining something of Kuniyoshi’s earlier warrior print style... the bristling body hair and deeply defined musculature. And yet on Katsutoyo, the flesh is sagging, the hair is sparse and the body turned to fat. Behind him are the tools of his trade - the swords and the robes of the samurai - and he gestures impatiently away from the viewer. A fine character print. This print is also in the British Museum Collection London.
Good impression and colour with some damage. Some wormholes to the upper left and minor marks and flaws. Overall moderate state.
Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga; published by Yamamoto-ya Heikichi; censor seal Mera-Murata.
36 x 26 cm.