Kuniyoshi 国芳: Kumawakamaru and Honma Saburo 熊若丸 本間三郎 (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) 国芳
Title: Kumawaka Maru and Honma Saburo  熊若丸 本間三郎
Series: Thirty-six Honorable Battles (Eimei Sanjuroku Kassen) 英名三十六合戦 
Date:  1847-1850
Size: oban (37.6 x 25.2 cm)

Dramatic scene of a physical downpour with an emotionally drenching story to match. We see the young Kunimitsu Hino, here called Kumawaka Maru 熊若丸 as he crouches with youthful confidence beneath his traveling hat, which he has affixed to the branch of a stocky tree and seems to be redirecting a downspout. He may have tied it there to help the young man to spy or perhaps to serve as shelter from the rain. Kuniyoshi has created a dramatic visual curtain with the sheets of rain, and we see Honma Saburo, clearly a villain, glaring out from the top corner with his short sword in hand, held aloft by the hilt. Saburo was responsible for the death of the boy’s father, so we can feel the tension. Kumawakamaru was the childhood name of Kunimitsu Hino. He is famous for the revenge he exacted on the man he held responsible for his father’s death; the story was included  in the 14th century chronicle Taiheiki.   Only eleven works in this series of 36 seem to have been published, and this scarce design is from the first edition as it bears the rectangular publisher’s mark at bottom; it is the strongest design in the series.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Lower margin is narrow and margins have minor soiling. Unbacked. 
Publisher:  Ise-Ichi
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga
Literature: Robinson S61.3. See Philadelphia Museum of Art collection online.