Kunisada: Taira no Tadamori and the Oil Thief

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Title: Taira no Tadamori Grapples with the Oil Thief
Series: Mirror of Famous People from our Country (Honcho komei kagami)
Date: ca. 1835

Kunisada could also do warrior prints!  Here we see Taira no Tadamori (1096-1153) seizing the presumed oil thief from behind, the old monk dropping his oil jug as he struggles to escape. This well-known story was depicted quite often by Kuniyoshi, but here we see Kunisada doing his own terrific take. The story goes that Emperor Shirakawa saw the shadow of a fierce-looking creature at night in the temple grounds of the Mido Temple, near Kyoto. He ordered his warrior to kill the monster, but it turns out that through the trick of nighttime shadows, it was actually an old priest simply refilling the lanterns, and his straw hat had created a fearsome silhouette. Throughout his long career, Kunisada mostly stayed in his lane by designing the actor prints and beauty prints that he was famous for--although he only designed about 50 warrior prints, we can see here his talent in this genre as well. This story is from book six of the Heike monogatari. Quite scarce.

Condition: Good impression, color and condition. Barely visible center fold; unbacked and largely untrimmed.
Dimensions: ôban (37.3 x 25.7 cm)
Publisher: Joshuya Kinzi
Signature: Kochoro Kunisada ga