Yoshitoshi, Description of the Punitive Campaign at Kagoshima in Satsuma Province

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Description of the Punitive Campaign at Kagoshima in Satsuma Province, 1877. Oban triptych.

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A stunning triptych that still owes much to the great musha-e triptychs of Kuniyoshi from half a century earlier. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when reformers (ironically from the southern Satsuma region) forcibly restored the titular Emperor, dislodging the centuries old Tokugawa Shogunate, there remained considerable disquiet amongst the old samurai class. The new government reforms led to the marginalisation of traditional values and in 1877 there commenced a final, brief civil war.

The outcome was the defeat of traditionalist rebels at Kagoshima in Satsuma. The war restored Yoshitoshi’s flagging career and he produced a number of prints including several triptychs that recorded the events and the characters of the rebellion. Yoshitoshi continues the deceit that the forces of opposition were dressed as samurai and the government soldiers in western uniforms. The fact is that both armies were modernised and would have looked and dressed more or less identically. For the sake of romance, we see the Meiji troops on the right of the print behind a cannonade of gunfire and the ill-equipped Satsuma rebels advancing with the medieval weaponry of sword and lance. As a compositional motif, Yoshitoshi places the edifice of Kagoshima Castle rearing up in the right hand sheet - well illustrating his easy mastery of western perspective.

A great print that formed part of Yoshitoshi’s rehabilitation as an artist. In perfect condition, the three sheets are joined with album backing paper. Colour and impression are pristine. Full size.

A copy of this print is in the British Museum London.

Signed Oju Taiso Yoshitoshi. Published by Kumagaya Shoshichi.