Yoshitoshi, Taira no Koremochi slaying the demon Momiji in Maple Leaf Viewing

Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892) Taira no Koremochi slaying the demon Momiji in Maple Leaf Viewing, 1868. Oban triptych.

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A rare triptych from  the genius hand of Yoshitoshi… the 'troubled' artist of the late nineteenth century and really the only other artist to trouble the reputation of Kuniyoshi. The print is from the 1868 series Eight Views From Fine Tales of Warriors. It’s a riot of action and horror and typical of Yoshitoshi’s early work from the 1860’s.

The demon Momiji (the name is literally 'Maple Leaves'… the ones we see blowing across the print), is haunting the mountains of Nagano. Taira no Koremochi was charged with hunting the demon and liberating the people who lived in fear of her. Koremochi and his retainers climbed the beautiful mountain, and they came upon a small group of aristocrats having a leaf-viewing party. At the party, the warriors were introduced to Princess Sarashina, an extremely beautiful young woman. They all sat and enjoyed watching the leaves, drinking sake, and dancing. Soon the men became drunk and sleepy, and dozed off under the beautiful trees.

As he slept, Koremochi dreamed of the god Hachiman and his mission. The god told him that Princess Sarashina was actually the demon Momiji in disguise, and that he must kill her with a holy sword. When Koremochi woke up, the sword he dreamed of was in his hand, a gift from Hachiman. He chased after the women, but a huge firestorm broke out. Flame and wind lit up the mountain. A ten foot demon with horns made of burning trees appeared, and an intense battle between the samurai and the demon took place. In the end, thanks to his magical sword, Koremochi was successful, and he slew the Witch.

Yoshitoshi shows the moment that the fight takes place. Taira no Koremochi is in the centre sheet, drawing the magical sword; the demon hides behind a vast Buddhist drum, summoning fire and wind; and all about them blow the leaves and the objects of the maple viewing picnic.

A fantastic print, the colour and impression are very good but the print is trimmed and the condition is worn, with a vertical fold to the left of the centre sheet. These issues are reflected in the price.

Published by Kinseido, Keyes 200

67 x 34 cm.