Yoshitoshi 芳年: Akashi Gidayu 明石儀太夫 Prepares for Seppuku (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) 芳年
Title: Akashi Gidayu 明石儀太夫 Prepares for Seppuku
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon 月百姿
Date: 1890

Akashi Gidayû was a retainer for Akechi Mitsuhide, who seized power from Nobunaga in 1582. Gidayû was sent to fight the army that was loyal to the slain Nobunaga, but his forces were defeated. Gidayû was so ashamed that he requested of Mitsuhide to be permitted to commit honorable suicide, seppuku, but Mitsuhide forbade it. Here we see that Gidayû has decided to disobey his master as he sits with decisive concentration, knife in hand. He has written his death poem, zeppitsu, which has been translated by John Stevenson as follows: “As I am about to enter the ranks of those who disobey/ Ever more brightly shines/ the moon of the summer night.” Instead of the light of the moon we see the glowing eyes of a painted tiger that has been positioned at top left, looking right with intensity from a painted screen. We see the knife scabbard at left and the focused resignation of Gidayû’s pose, and feel like the scene is holding its breath for the next moment in time, one that we are thankfully spared the sight of. A very early impression, the lacquer accents of the room have been printed with the deluxe “lacquer-imitating” technique that gives these objects an extra shine.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban 35.6 x 24 cm
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Literature: John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (San Francisco: San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992), number 83. See British Museum, Portland Art Museum, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Library of Congress collections. 
Seal: Taiso
Signature: Yoshitoshi