Kunisada: Gallant Outlaw Yoshibei About to Enter the Fray (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: Gallant Outlaw Yoshibei About to Enter the Fray
Series: Darkness of Feeling (Nasake no yami)
Date: 1855

Dramatic nighttime scene of Uma no Yoshibei (also known as Tosshi) drawing his sword. Yoshibei was an otokodate, a charismatic Robin Hood-type character that was popular in the Edo period; their swagger and fearlessness was appreciated by the kabuki public. Yoshibei’s robes always feature black crows and white herons, which symbolize a sort of yin-and-yang struggle between purity (herons) and bad luck (crows). In this perfectly-preserved print, the heron and the crow almost seem to be about to fight. We can see that Yoshibei is also about to fight, as he is drawing his sword and will soon enter the violent fray that we see taking place in the background. Here Yoshibei wears the jaunty scarf-towel tied around his neck, instead of the purple hood that he is known for. Actors from the Sawamura lineage were most often favored for this role; the play is Suda no Haru Geisha Katagi, and this could be the scene at the O River where Chokichi is assailed by burglars in Act II. The play is based on true events that took place in Osaka in the 18th century. The printing on this work is exceptional; there is blindprinting on the feathers of the heron and lacquer-style feather patterns have been overprinted on the crow. An extremely early impression with completely unfaded colors.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Mint; as if done yesterday.
Signature: Toyokuni ga
Literature: See Achenbach FAMSF, Waseda.