Yoshitaki, Arashi Rikan as Watonai

Utagawa Yoshitaki (ca 1841 - 1899) Arashi Rikan as Watonai, 1850’s.  Deluxe Chuban.

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This exceptional print by Yoshitaki owes a huge debt to Hirosada, not only in the subject matter, which is borrowed from an earlier print of the same actor, but also stylistically. During the 1860’s, Yoshitaki would pull away from Hirosada’s distinctive mannerisms, but in this print they are all perfectly evident and the cartouche and discrete, upper scene are also dependent upon the older artist’s designs… notably his series Chuko junishi no uchi (Loyalty and Filial Piety, Twelve Signs of the Zodiac) from the 1840’s.

Here we see the Osaka actor Arashi Rikan as Watonai stealthily creeping along with a rifle slung over his arm and a rush coat just visible at the lower part of the design. The action is from the play, Kokusen'ya Gassen which deals with the exile of a Chinese princess and her rescue by another exile, Roikkan and his wife and son Watonai. Watonai hunts down a tiger and also the men who have been sent after the Princess in order to kill her. The action of entrapment and hunting is alluded to in the mitate of the upper portion of the print… the drawing of the fragile bird being either released or tempted to return to its cage. The print is from an unidentified series.

This is outstandingly beautiful, with very fine deluxe printing using burnishing and gold, brass and silver pigments. The print is full sized with wide margins in a fine state of preservation. Colour, impression and condition are all fine.

25 x 17.5 cm.