Kunikiyo, Fight on the Roof of the Horyukaku

Utagawa Kunikiyo (Active mid-nineteenth century)  Fight on the Roof of the Horyukaku, 1850 - 55. Oban Triptych.

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This great bold and brilliant triptych is by a pupil of Toyokuni I, possibly also a pupil of Kuniyoshi and, as can be seen, a highly skilled artist. It is known that he also worked as an administrator in the shogunate and as a painter and printmaker. The scene is straight from the hand of Kuniyoshi, the colours, the composition and the subject are all influenced by the great Kuniyoshi, but there is also a real deftness to this exciting piece.

Kunikiyo illustrates a scene from the popular novel Nanso Satomi Hakkenden (The Diary of Eight Dogs) by Takizawa Bakin (1767-1848). The complex plot centres on the eight offspring of a supernatural marriage between a princess and her father’s dog. Shamed at the birth of her children, she kills herself and the eight beads of her rosary, each representing a Buddhist virtue, become crystal orbs and disperse, the children being reborn to normal mothers sixteen years later. The plot twists and turns as the eight brothers become acquainted as adults.  The fantastic and macabre tale tells the story of the eight who battle to restore the fallen samurai house of Satomi. Each hero represents one of the eight samurai virtues and each has a name that includes the ideograph for 'dog'. The fight on the roof of the Horyukaku, when Inuzuka Shino Moritaka defends himself against Inukai Kempachi Nobumichi, the chief of police, was a favourite theme among artists and their public.

A terrific piece, colour, impression and condition are all outstanding.

Published by Isutsuya.

74 x 36 cm.