Yoshitoyo, 5 Confucian Virtues - Onoe Tamizo II as Shobai Isshin

Yoshitoyo (signed Hokusui) (active 1830 - 66) Onoe Tamizo II as Shobai Isshin, From The Five Confucian Virtues, 1856.  Deluxe Chuban.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

A wonderful print throwing up some confusion because of the issues of censorship. Yoshitoyo was a fine artist and poet in Osaka and a member of the Osaka School of Printmakers. It was common for Osaka artists to use pseudonyms since prohibition of actor prints was more severe there than elsewhere. In this case the artist is also known by the name Hokusui - the print is signed in that name - but the seal on the print is that of Yoshitoyo. Subjects habitually became disguised in layers of alternate meaning. In this case the print is from a small series of five prints commemorating a performance of Mukashi Abumi Bunbu no Isaoshi. The real subject however, is disguised as a worthy encouragement to the five Confucian virtues. The consistent Confucian values are Benevolence, Righteousness, Propriety, Knowledge and Sincerity.

This print represents the actor Onoe Tamizo II in the role of Shobai Isshin. The piece is incidentally titled Sincerity, a feature of the character who is illustrated. This was an easy way for the artist to represent a stage production - forcing the five lead roles into the roughly cast virtues of Confucian philosophy. It is a deluxe print with metallic ink on the large red cartouche. As with so many Osaka prints the quality of the design and the execution are outstanding.

Colour and impression are very fine, the condition is very good except for some yellowing to the paper. Full size with margins.

Signed Hokusui, seal Yoshitoyo.

19cm x 25cm.