Yoshitoshi: Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa After Earthquake at Momoyama Castle

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Title: Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa After Earthquake at Momoyama Castle
Series: Mirror of Famous Generals of Japan (Dai nippon meisho kagami)
Date: 1876

Although Keyes gives this work the title “Toyotomi Hideyoshi shielding Omandokoro from Kato Kiyomasa”, to this viewer there seems to be an alternative interpretation of the scene. Kato Kiyomasa was in the service of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the shrewd and ruthless unifier of Japan in the 16th century, and Kiyomasa’s position here on hands and knees is one of obeisance. He seems either to be reporting to Hideyoshi or awaiting orders from him. Here Hideyoshi is already an older man and is dressed in everyday clothing. This viewer would postulate that this scene instead shows the earthquake that destroyed Hideyoshi’s castle, Momoyama, only a year after it was completed in 1594. It would be hard to surmise another reason why Hideyoshi would be shown out-of-doors with female court ladies while flames and smoke fill the air behind them. Indeed, this bears resemblance to the 1885 triptych by Yoshitoshi that shows the Fushimi earthquake scene, but in that work it is Kiyomasa who is is protecting Hideyoshi and a group of terrified court women. The woman that Hideyoshi is comforting cannot be his mother, as she died in 1592, and the woman shown is obviously quite young; perhaps she is another relative of his, or even a concubine. The title Omandokoro usually refers to Hideyoshi’s mother--here it must be the term for another noblewoman of rank (if Omandokoro is the reading given to the name cartouche at lower right). The rising smoke in the background was printed with a lead-orange pigment that has oxidized to dramatic shades of grey. There is also a lead pigment in the skirt of the woman holding Hideyoshi’s sword, perhaps indicating iridescence. 

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Crease near the left margin and a tiny area of wormage. With mica in the sky and lacquer-like printing in the black elements.
Dimensions: ôban
Publisher: Kumagai
Literature: Listed in “Beauty & Violence” , number 27.10, page 118. Keyes number 334.10.
Seal: Taiso
Signature: Ôju Yoshitoshi hitsu