Kuniyoshi 国芳: Original Preparatory Drawing of Inue Shinbei Masashi 犬江親兵衛仁 Lifting a Sapling
Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Original Preparatory Drawing of Inue Shinbei Masashi 犬江親兵衛仁 Lifting a Sapling
Date: ca. late 1840s
We see the determined young strongman hoisting a sapling above his head, roots and all, his expression firm in his youthful face. This preparatory drawing eventually became the basis for the following published print, which may be found on the British Museum website: Inuye Shimbei Masashi (犬江親兵衛仁) wielding an uprooted tree trunk against two cowering assailants. The print was published about 1850 by Mikawaya Tesugoro. It is from the series Satomi Hakkenden, or History of the Eight Dogs of Satomi. Comparing the drawing with the finished print, the figure, face, stance and arrangement of the robes is very similar. In the finished print, the top of the tree may be seen pointing left, perhaps to make it more dramatic. It also makes more sense of the fact that the hero is facing down and to our left, although we can’t see his opponents. The story of the Eight Dog Heroes was a theme that Kuniyoshi returned to many times. Kuniyoshi also enjoyed stories of very young heroes, and here we see his youthfulness in the proportions of his body and the wideness of his face. In the finished print his robes also echo a youthful theme. We see how much of the story Kuniyoshi communicates to us using relatively few brushstrokes, giving us a strong sense of the hero with his determined expression and weight-bearing posture. For the finished print, see the British Museum website:
Size: 32 x 23.1 cm
Condition: Some paper losses; lightly mounted to backing sheet for safety.
Reference: Although this work is unpublished, these books are highly recommended: M. Forrer, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology Leiden; The Hague, 1988. B.W. Robinson, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - in the collection of Ferd. Lieftinck of Haren, Holland; Groningen, 1953. Fagioli, Utagawa Kuniyoshi: 90 disegni; Firenze, 1985. Fagioli, Kuniyoshi - an appreciation of his drawings; in: ANDON no. 21; 1986.