Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) A Mirror of Benevolent Heroes of Japan: Hachisuka Koroku Masakatsu with a Child, 1878. Oban.
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Almost a companion to Kuniyoshi’s Comparison of the High Renown of the Loyal Retainers and Faithful Samurai: Shikamatsu Kanroku Holding a Lantern Discovers the Maid Sumiji this very fine print appears thirty years later from the hand of Yoshitoshi. Kuniyoshi developed a distinctive design for his mid-career warrior series - the full length figure, no background and descriptive text surrounding the drawing in cursive script. Most famous of these is his 1848 series Stories of True Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai but he revives it over and over, for example in the series Skilfully Tempered, Sharpened Blades also of the same year.
Yoshitoshi uses the overall design for this little known series and in this case he borrows in mirror image, the form and the drawing, including the western style foreshortening of the reclining figure. Hachisuka Koroku Masakatsu was a feudal lord and a retainer of Hideyoshi in the sixteenth century. This warring period was well documented by nineteenth century woodblock artists and the names of the generals and the samurai, many forgotten today, would have been well known to the print buying public. Perhaps in a sign of the softening of the Japanese toward their historical, ruthless and savage code of honour, Yoshitoshi pictures the general in the act of sparing a child.
A fine print, very beautifully drawn from an unusual series. Fine condition, colour and impression. Faint centre fold.
Published by Morimoto Junzaburo.
25cm x 36cm.