Kuniyoshi 国芳: Shirai Gonpachi in a Downpour

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Station Honjo; Shirai Gonpachi
Series: Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô Road  木曾街道六十九次之内
Date: 1852

The samurai-hero-villain Shirai Gonpachi sheaths his sword, a tied bundle in his mouth as he glances over his shoulder with a nervous air. We see evidence of a fight, with a sword on the ground as well as a single sandal and an umbrella. The character of Shirai Gonpachi was based on a real person, Hirai Gonpachi, who lived in the 17th century and was famously the lover of the courtesan Komuraskai. A kabuki play was written that fictionalized his exploits, and this apparently shows the moment after he has killed Honjô Sukedayû. The rain is terrifically executed, and Gonpachi’s purple robe has an extra pattern that was printed with a shiny and transparent extra layer.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Binding holes at left and slight trimming to left.
Dimensions: ôban (36 x 24.4 cm)
Publisher: Minatoya Kohei
Literature: See Sarah Thompson’s “The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô”, figure 11, page 38.
Seal: kiri
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga