Yoshitoshi 芳年: Minamoto no Yorimasa with Bow and Arrow

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) 芳年
Title: Minamoto no Yorimasa with Bow and Arrow
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon 月百姿
Date: 1888

Minamoto no Yorimasa, brave 12th century warrior and renowned poet, looks up towards the sky as he kneels at the bottom of the steps to the Imperial Palace. The complete title is a verse that may be read: “Does the cuckoo also  announce its name from above the clouds? Yorimasa extemporises; I only bent my bow and the arrow shot itself.” Minamoto no Yorimosa was most famous for bringing down with his arrow a magical nue that appeared on the roof of the Imperial Palace. The nue is a beast with the face of a monkey, the body of a badger, the paws of a tiger and the tail of a snake’s head. Yoshitoshi has designed this scene in such a way that it is difficult to know if this is the evening that Yorimasa actually shot the nue, as here he seems to be adjusting his sleeve, perhaps to tie it back to shoot the creature, and his bow rests at his side. It may also be the moment that he completed this famous poem, when he was being rewarded for his bravery and he was looking up at the moon. The poem is written in the square cartouche above.

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Large margins. Some wrinkles and minor areas of soil.
Dimensions: ôban 37.1 x 25.1 cm
Publisher: Akiyama Takeuemon
Literature: John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (San Francisco: San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992), number 58. See British Museum, Portland Art Museum.
Seal: Taiso
Signature: Yoshitoshi