Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) Minamoto no Yorimitsu Fighting Hakamadare and the Magic Snake, Early 1875. Chuban Triptych.
This stirring triptych with its terrifyng giant orange snake is by Yoshitaki, an artist who dominated the later Osaka printmaking scene. Yorimitsu, sometimes called Raiko, was a great Japanese hero and samurai of the tenth century. He is one of the first heroes of the Minamoto clan who would come to dominate Japanese history. Legend has it that he was often pursuing bandits, magicians and demons - a famous story concerns his putting down of the gigantic earth spider for example. In this story he is pursuing the bandit Hakamadare who conjures a giant snake, terrifying Raiko and his followers. His dog attacks the snake, showing everyone that it is an illusion and not real.
The exploits of Japan’s great historical clans were often the subject of folk tales, puppet plays and kabuki. Yoshitaki shows Raiko in the act of attacking the serpent with Hakamadare and his hencman on the right. A famous version of the story exists in one of the great Japanese prints of the nineteenth century of the same title and by Yoshitsuya; and Yoshitoshi made one of his famous vertical diptychs depicting Hakamadare and his snake.
A very dramatic triptych, colour and impression are good as is condition. There is some wear to the edges.
25cm x 53cm.