Kuniyoshi 国芳: Gentoku Jumps His Horse into the Tan Gorge 玄徳馬躍擅渓跳図 (RESERVED)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 国芳 (1798-1861)
Title: Gentoku Jumps His Horse into the Tan Gorge (Gentoku uma o odorasete Dankei o tobu zu, 玄徳馬躍擅渓跳図)  Date: 1853

Series: Popular Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Tsuzoku Sangokushi no uchi, 通俗三国志之内)

Gentoku Jumps His Horse into the Tan Gorge. Dramatic scene of surging water surrounding (yet not overcoming) the heroic figure, who still grasps the reins, controlling the fear of his mount. The whitewater waves almost swallow the two figures, and the waves eddy around them. We see how deep the gorge is by the steepness of the overhanging crags, and by the wisp of cloud that snakes in from the right . Above right, in a procession behind an unusual crenelated wall (with echoes of China’s Great Wall?), a group hurries along, far above and not noticing the warrior plunging across the foamy waters. On the  right bank are men who look on, dismayed at this feat.  On the left bank, in a charming vignette, is the Ox-Boy (ushidoji) playing his flute. He watches Gentoku, perhaps as a symbol of calm. Ox-herd Boy was the subject of a series of pictures that originated in the 12th century China. These were said to represent similes for Buddhist meditation practice, so perhaps he is a symbol of taming the mind. Gentoku was the future emperor Chao Lieh, and he and his black horse Tekiro lept into the Tan Gorge in order to escape captivity. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a Chinese historical novel that was written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong about the three warring kingdoms who were at odds at around the year 200 CE. Kuniyoshi composed a single-sheet design of this scene in 1836, showing the warrior descending dramatically towards the river.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Exceptionally fine example; completely untrimmed, unfaded and no backing.

Dimensions: ôban triptych (38 x 25.7 cm each sheet)
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo

Literature: Robinson T296. 
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga with his paulownia seal