Yoshitoshi: Snow: Iwakura no Sogen played by Onoe Baiko (SOLD)

  • Sold.

Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Title: Snow: Iwakura no Sogen played by Onoe Baiko
Series: Snow, moon and flowers: Setsu Gekka no uchi
Date: 1890/8 (Meiji 23)

Onoe Baikô V (Onoe Kikugorô V, 1844-1903) in the role of Sôgen in the play Hanafubuki,. The priest Sôgen  has been expelled from his temple after falling in love with the beautiful courtesan Irokotohime. Death has claimed her, so he is left with nothing but her memory. Tales of the priest Sôgen were first adapted to the kabuki theatre in the 1670s and since then many versions were written. Sôgen/Seigen is a tragic figure who has nowhere to go after being expelled from his temple and roams the countryside in a pitiful state of starvation and longing. This a Yoshitoshi work that was done in his final years, when he was stricken with poverty and illness, yet his power of design is stronger than ever. A masterpiece of psychological intensity, Sogen’s hair has been uniquely printed with hairs that are the width of actual hairs, and his hands and bony frame stand out against the snowy landscape. He walks away from a smoky fire in an abandoned lean-to, spiderwebs seen in the upper corner. We feel the bitterness of the cold in the ice forming on the pine boughs as well as in the unforgettable expression of the actor’s visage. This is one of a series of three triptychs showing half-length portraits of actors from the series “Snow, Moon, Flowers”. This is the second state of the print, with the name of the actor in the title cartouche.

Condition: Excellent impression; very good color; good condition. Trimmed and backed.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (35.6 x 68.7 cm)
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Literature: Keyes 1983, p. 493, no. 517.1. Segi 1985, pp. 98-99, no. 59. van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 90, no. 69.1 Akita Museum of Modern Art 1999, p. 24, no. 66. Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2012, pp. 144-145, no. 217. See British Museum online.
Signature: Yoshitoshi ga with “Yoshitoshi” oval seal in red