Yoshitoshi 芳年: Hail of Arrows at the Battle of Shijonawate
Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) 芳年
Title: Theater Reformation: Stories Gleaned at Yoshino, Picture of Kusunoki Masatsura Dying at the Battle of Shijonawate
Yoshitoshi was a master of kabuki portraiture, as he captured both the pathos of the actors and the immediate drama of the story through selective realism, here bringing the viewer directly into the battlefield. We see Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Kusunoki Masatsura about to meet his end at the Battle of Shijonawate. His face has the bluish pallor of a doomed man, and the arrows of the enemy are falling around him like rain. He has a head wound and a determined yet rather dazed expression. His hair flows down around him and he leans on his bloodied sword. He has somehow lost one shoe and shin covering during the battle. Masatsura was a supporter of the Southern Imperial Court during Japan’s Nanbokucho Wars in the 1340s. He was killed in this battle in February 1348 at the age of 22. Engeki kairyô: Yoshino shui Shijônawata Kusu(noki) Masatsura uchijini no zu. 楠帯刀正行 市川団十郎. This is a very rare design from Yoshitoshi’s best period that is reminiscent of the Kuniyoshi double triptych from 1847 of this battle that also depicts Masatsura during his final moments. Scarce.
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition; some trimming. Backed.
Dimensions: ôban triptych
Literature: Keyes, Courage and Silence (1982), no. 489; Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi (2014), fig. 310, p. 300. See “Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection”, page 134, number 100. See MIA (Freis Collection)
Signature: Oju Yoshitoshi