Yoshitoshi 芳年: Moonlight Patrol 月下の斥候 斎藤利三 (Sold)

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 芳年 (1839-1892)
Title: Moonlight Patrol 月下の斥候 斎藤利三
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon 月百姿
Date: 1885

Patrol Under the Moon–Saito Toshimitsu. We see the fully armored general Toshimitsu halting his mount to scan the way ahead, shielding his eyes against what must be a very bright full moon. He is following his lord, Mitsuhide, in his treacherous campaign against Oda Nobunaga at Honnoji temple in Kyoto. The low vantage point of this design–which seems to be from the perspective of perhaps a frog in the Kamo River––is interesting, as well as the the strong cropping of the main elements. This may be a subconscious homage to Hiroshige, who was famous for employing both of these visual techniques in his later series, or perhaps it is more of a winking reference. The horse seems to be waiting for his orders, perhaps reflecting the hesitation that Toshimitsu himself felt in carrying out the treachery against Nobunaga. The cloudless sky, the calm river and the glowing moon give us the feeling of the calm before the storm. This is an unusually early impression, and all the black elements of Toshimitu’s armor have been burnished with the lacquer-imitating effect that makes them shiny against the light. There is blindprinting in the white of the cartouche.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban 35.5 x 24 cm
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Literature: Stevenson #8. See the British Museum, FAMSF online collections.
Seal: Taiso
Signature: Yoshitoshi