Yoshitoshi, Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors - Minamoto Discovers Kintaro

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Yoshitoshi’s Courageous Warriors: Minamoto Discovers Kintaro (1885). Oban.

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What an extraordinary print this is. The wild boy of legend - Kintaro - sits awkwardly at the front of the composition. His pose, his manner are deliberately ugly - Yoshitoshi has taken pains to describe the claw-like toe nails, the hairy body and the paw like hands. There is something of the quality of Kuniyoshi’s Suikoden heroes here. Yoshitoshi contrasts this with the customary, refined elegance of the great samurai hero Minamoto no Yorimitsu (Raiko), with his meticulous clothes and weapons and his neat, manicured beard.

In legend, Kintaro was raised in the wild, some say by his mother, others by an old hag. He was exceptionally strong and willful and became friends with the creatures of the mountains. He is a popular legend in Japanese folklore even today and is traditionally shown with monkeys, with whom he was able to communicate; and with a chopper, with which he performed great feats of strength. As an adult he became a famous and fierce samurai and retainer of Minamoto no Yorimitsu and the boyhood legend has over time become conflated with the real warrior and historical figure Sakata no Kintoki. There is another version of the same scene by Yoshikazu that shows the young Kintaro wrestling one of Yorimitsu’s retainers.

A very interesting piece from the first edition, from one of Yoshitoshi’s accomplished warrior series. Full size, with margins in very fine condition. Colour and impression are all excellent.

Signed Taiso Yoshitoshi ga. Published by Kobayashi Tetsujiro.

35cm x 25cm.