Kuniyoshi, Stories of 100 Heroes of High Renown- Empress Jingo Kogo

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Empress Jingo Kogo from Stories of a Hundred Heroes of High Renown, 1843. Oban.

It is only right to include female warriors as well as male in a show that is dominated by Kuniyoshi and his successors. Kuniyoshi, more than any artist represented women as strong and powerful individuals and was really the first artist of Japan to give them character and importance; prior to that, artists had tended to represent them as courtesans or palace retainers. The Empress was hugely significant in Japanese Imperial history, not only as consort, (where they wielded great power) but as true rulers in their own right - there are thought to have been eight true Empresses in the history of the Imperial blood line.

Empress Jingo (AD169 - 269?) is possibly a romantic invention, but there are plenty of references to her in ancient Japanese texts. Jingo reputedly was warlike and fierce, leading a Japanese army to invade Korea, although there is little evidence of Japanese rule there at this time. Kuniyoshi pictures the Empress seated next to a rock on which rests two Imperial jewels in a bowl. She carries a sceptre in one hand and a sword in the other, partially obscured by a sumptuous robe.

This is a rare series, and is the first in which Kuniyoshi devised the format of single figures on a plain ground with biographical text above. It became his favourite format for portrait biographies  and was widely imitated.

The print is full size, fine colour, impression and condition. One small hole in the right margin.

Published by Izumi-ya Ichibei.

25cm x 36cm.