Kuniyoshi 国芳: Original Preparatory Drawing of Men with Torches on the Warpath (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Original Preparatory Drawing of Men with Torches on the Warpath
Date: ca. late 1840s

A band of men are on the warpath, ascending a winding hill towards a house above, their weapons out and their faces grimly determined. The leader carries a torch, and a second man towards the back also carries a lit torch, so it must be nighttime. They do not seem to be acting in an official capacity, as their clothes are those worn by everyday people, and the house seems to be an ordinary residence. The second man has peeled down his upper jacket and is unclothed beneath it, and he carries a weapon on his shoulder. They all seem itching for a fight, leaning forward and making haste up the illustrated path. Kuniyoshi has lent the men a terrific sense of movement and urgency and commitment in just a few strokes, telling part of a story with great effectiveness. The size of this drawing seems to be for a print that would be intended for a chuban print. 

Provenance: The Thomas Stauffer collection, whose collection reportedly contained eight Kuniyoshi drawings albums via the dealer Bing. A US collector purchased this work from the dealer Merlin Dailey, who acquired it from the collection of the Chicago collector Thomas Stauffer. Other Kuniyoshi albums are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum and the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. These collections all are assumed to have originated with the French dealer S. Bing, and some through Emil Javal and then through the dealer Felix Tikotin to the collector Lieftinck. 

Size: 15 x 24.7 cm

Condition: Very good condition overall. On the original thin Japanese paper, unbacked.

Reference:  Although this work is unpublished, these books are highly recommended: M. Forrer, Drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi - from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology Leiden; The Hague,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.