Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
The hero Taira no Kagekiyo (aka Akushichibyôe) with his naginata lance on the shoulder of the Daibutsu, the big Buddha statue of the Tôdaiji temple in Nara, being on the flight after his failed attempt to kill Minamoto no Yoritomo. The pictorial cartouche in the form of a stylised butterfly (Kagekiyo's heraldic animal), shows a mountainous landscape near Mitake on the Kisokaidô or Nakasendô road.
Title: Mitake – Akushichibyôe Kagekiyo – No. 50
Series: Kisokaidô rokujûkyû tsugi no uchi (The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô)
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga
Seal: Kiri mon
Engraver: Sugawa Sennosuke (Chinosuke)
Publisher: Sumiyoshiya Masagorô (Sumimasa, Hôraidô), Edo
Censor seals: Fuku(shima), Muramatsu
Date: 1852, 6th month
Size: Vertical Ôban, 35,7 x 24,4 cm (overall)
Excellent impression and colours, with lustre printing. Well visible plate grain. Slightly trimmed at top and bottom, old backing. Few small stains, at lower margin a little bit fingerstained and soiled. Overall very nice condition. This is the variant with dark blue sky and black bokashi in top (the other having only a black sky).
With the huge head and upper body of the Buddha seen from an unusual perspective and strongly cropped, this is an outstanding composition!
Ill. in Thompson, Utagawa Kuniyoshi. The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô, 2009, p. 116 f, no. 50; James King and Yuriko Iwakiri, Japanese Warrior Prints 1646-1905, Leiden/Boston 2007, p. 290f, no. 163. Robinson, The Warrior-Prints, 1982, p. 74.61. Cf. also British Museum 2008,3037.14750; MFA 11.38972.51 et al.; Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) 2009.124.68; Rijksmuseum RP-P-2019-222.