Kuniyoshi: Fierce Benkei with Notice Board

  • $1,500.00
Shipping calculated at checkout.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Musashi-bo Benkei with Notice Board and Brush (武蔵坊辨慶),
Series: Stories of One Hundred Heroes of High Renown (Meiko hyaku yuden) 名高百勇傳
Date: Circa 1843

Portait of Musashi-bo Benkei (武蔵坊辨慶), who is pictured wearing voluminous court robes featuring eight-spoked dharma wheels over his armor. His expression is fierce, and he holds a signboard that he has just inscribed in his left hand and a brush in his right. The inkstone lies before him. The date of the inscription is 1184. Historically, almost nothing is known about Benkei except that he was a loyal retainer to Yoshitsune in the 12th century. According to the many legends and stories that he inspired, he was a figure of exceptional strength and loyalty and he became a popular subject for literature and kabuki theater. It is possible that this scene is from the kabuki play “The Battle Chronicles of the Two Leaves at the Valley of Ichi no Tani”, as in once scene from this play Benkei writes a cryptic inscription on a notice-board as ordered by Yoshitsune, in order to send a signal to one of his generals, Kumagai. The deep green in the robes features an oxidized lead overprinting.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked and untrimmed; condition is exceptional.
Dimensions: ôban (38 x 26.2 cm cm)
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei
Signature: Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga
Literature: Robinson #S31.2.