Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Utagawa Yoshitora’s triptych woodblock print of Samurai in combat, c1848/64


Utagawa Yoshitora (aka Kinchoro [錦朝楼]) (歌川芳虎) (fl.c.1836–1882)
Triptych: “Samurai battle in Mountains” (descriptive title), c1848/64.

Three-panel colour woodblock print with binding holes.
Size: (each panel) 35.2 x 24.4 cm
Signature seal of Yoshitora with the publisher's seal and double censors' seals.
Condition: well-printed early lifetime impressions that have retained their rich colour and apart from a minor stains, abrasions and a few spots of unevenness at the edges (e.g. the centre panel has a partial worm hole at the upper right edge) the sheets are in very good condition for their age. The left panel has a closed tear that has been restored and the tear is now virtually invisible. This panel has been laid upon a fine washi paper support sheet.

I am selling this very rare woodblock triptych by Yoshitora—so rare that I have been unable to locate another complete copy of it online, but the Ritsumeikan University holds the centre panel: https://ja.ukiyo-e.org/image/ritsumei/mai01k09(2) —for AU$703 (currently US$533.91/EUR449.98/GBP398.57 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this spectacular panoramic view of a battle, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.



Looking at this panoramic spread of a battle is a wonderful reminder that battles may be more than men killing each other; a battle may also involve an intimate invasion of nature by man. Certainly from my viewpoint, I see the fighting samurai scaling the weather sculpted mountain shown in the centre panel as forming vein-like lines travelling INTO the “flesh” of the mountain. Going further, even the green of the surrounding grassy slopes may be seen as the landscape’s skin making the men scaling on and streaming into the red rock-face seem even more like they are engaged in a landscape invasion. This is a marvellous crystallisation of the early Japanese vision of the landscape anthropomorphised.










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