Kuniyoshi 國芳: Dramatic Crash of Hideyoshi's Ship in a Storm– The Chopping Block Shoals off the Coast of Buzen Province 豊前国沖俎板ヶ瀬 (SOLD)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 國芳 (1798-1861)
Title: The Chopping Block Shoals off the Coast of Buzen Province 豊前国沖俎板ヶ瀬
Date: ca. 1850

A large ship caught in a gale has suddenly hit a rocky shoal at left-- a dramatic moment where many things are happening at once. The ship belongs to the great 16th-century warlord and unifier of Japan Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and its sail, flags and standards all bear his paulownia seal.  The fantastically roiling waves are topped with curling foam-fingers that are not unlike those seen on Hokusai’s Great Wave print. Rain is falling in fine lines that overprint the design in several directions. Dwarfed by the fantastic chaos is a figure who can be seen jumping atop some rocks from the bow of the ship; this is the sailor Yojibei who has attempted to assassinate Hideyoshi by crashing the ship in the storm.  Already we see a second boat of men who are pursuing the small Yojibei, their hands outstretched and their faces  bearing stern expressions. Yojibei was apparently seeking revenge for the death of his own brother, but he is certainly not going to survive this fight. The full title at right reads: “When the Great General Was on the Way to Kyoto from Kyushu He Encountered a Storm at Manaitagase in Dairi Bay in Buzen Province; the Sailor Yojibei Was Killed and His Body Thrown into the Sea, and Since Then the Place is Called the Yojibei Channel”. 名将九州より上洛のとき豊前国(ぶぜんのくに)内裏の沖俎板ヶ瀬にて難風に出会ひ船頭与次兵衛を切(きり)死骸を海に投込(なげこみ)しより以来与次兵衛灘といふu,  (Meishô Kyûshû yori jôraku no toki Buzen no kuni Dairi no oki Manaitagase ni te nanpû ni deai sendô Yojibei o kiri shigai o umi ni nagekomi shi yori irai Yojibei-nada to iu). A scarce design that is unusual to find in untrimmed condition.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Unbacked, with some minor backing remnants verso. Verso on 2 sheets we see partial fold lines (perhaps from previous backing sheets), but these are almost entirely invisible from the front of the print.
Dimensions: ôban triptych each sheet approx 37.7 x 76.5 cm
Publisher: Mikawaya Tetsugoro
Literature: See Portland Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (11.41808a-c)  Robinson T251. MFA, Kuniyoshi & Kunisada (2016), #24; Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Ukiyo-e dai musha-e ten/The Samurai World in Ukiyo-e (2003), #II-74; Robinson, Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints (1982), list #T251
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga