Kuniyoshi, Kagesue, Takatsuna and Shigetada Crossing the Uji River

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Kagesue, Takatsuna and Shigetada Crossing the Uji River, 1848. Oban triptych.

This very dramatic triptych by Kuniyoshi is rarely seen and shows a quite remarkable daring in its extraordinary composition. Three broad bands of colour run horizontally across all three sheets - sky, land and sea. By far the greatest is the vast expanse of water, endlessly rippled in which three famous Japanese heroes are seemingly being overwhelmed. The scene would have been famous in Edo but is now mainly forgotten.

Kuniyoshi shows Sasaki Takatsuna (1160 - 1214) in the centre sheet. He was a samurai commander, joining the forces of Minamoto Yoritomo in 1180 in the his war against the Taira. Takatsuna saved Yoritomo’s life at the battle of Ishibashiyama and served him until the conclusion of the war. He is usually depicted riding Yoritomo’s distinctive white horse Ikezuki. Ikezuki is famous in mythology for his swimming and biting abilities. The three samurai in the print are racing each other to the battle of the Uji River in 1184.

The print is in fine condition. Colour and impression are all fine. The sheets (formerly bound) are trimmed especially on the far right edge, but this does nothing to detract from this overwhelmingly powerful design. Three sheets, not backed.

34cm x 67cm.