Yoshitoshi: Watanabe no Tsuna and the Demon at Rashômon Gate (Sold)

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Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Title: Picture of Watanabe no Tsuna cutting off the Demon’s Arm at Rashomon Gate: RASHOMON WATANABE NO TSUNA ONI NO UDE KIRU NO ZU
Date: 1888, December 20

The warrior hero Watanabe no Tsuna (953-1025) confronts Ibaraki, the demon of Rashômon Gate, during a fierce storm. He holds a signpost, which he will soon exchange for a sword, which he will wield to sever her arm. Yoshitoshi has chosen the dramatic moment when the adversaries first meet, as Watanabe has not yet had time to hammer in his signboard (which reads kinsatsu, "prohibited"). The horse is beautifully rendered and rears up, the movement countering the diagonal intensity that comes down from the upper left. We follow Watanabe's gaze up to the demon, who clings to the vermilion pillar with her three-toed claws and one three-clawed hand. She glares down at the warrior, the bright red of her gaping mouth the brightest color in the artwork. The flashes of lightning and driving rain echo her evil gaze, and reinforce the strong diagonal thrust of the design. Yoshitoshi was fond of this story, and chose to design prints which illustrate other chapters, including a horizontal diptych showing Ibaraki disguising herself as an old woman to view the arm, which she then seizes and flies off with. This work is from the first edition, published by Matsui Eikichi, and it includes the date in the left margin.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition Unbacked and untrimmed.
Dimensions: ôban diptych kakemono-e
Publisher: Matsui Eikichi
Seal: Taiso
Signature: Ôju Yoshitoshi
Literature: Keyes 1983, p. 487, no. 507. "Beauty & violence", van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 87, no. 64. Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2012, p. 137, no. 202. Iwakiri 2014, p. 148, no. 222.