Yoshitoshi 芳年: Fire Escape 松竹梅湯嶋掛額

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Title: 松竹梅湯嶋掛額
Date: 1885

The Greengrocer’s Daughter Oshichi Yaoya Ascending a Ladder after Setting Fire to the Kanda District in Edo (Shoshukubai Yushuma Kakegaku). Oshichi climbs a bamboo ladder, her expression at odds with the scene of flames and chaos all around, perhaps reflecting her immaturity at age 15. She has committed arson in the hopes of being reunited with her crush, a temple page. Her robes are flung upward by the draft of the flames, and her positioning on a ladder over the fire seems to foreshadow her punishment of being burned at the stake for her crime. Below right we see the brigades of firemen in their distinctly patterned fire coats, some holding large matoi (standards) to identify their company. The fire itself features an orange/pink lead pigment that has oxidized to varying shades of grey. This is one of the more scarce designs from this series of vertical diptychs, which are considered some of Yoshitoshi's best works.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Minor trimming. Unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban diptych (each sheet 36 x 24.1 cm)Publisher: Matsui Eikichi
Literature: See “Yoshitoshi, The Splendid Decadent” number figure 41, page 74. See the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection.
Seal: Yoshitoshi
Signature: Ôju Yoshitoshi