Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892).
Subject: Musha-e (Warrior print); “Yoshitoshi Musha Burui” (Yoshitoshi’s Courageous Warriors): kurou [9th son] hangan Minamoto Yoshitsune and Musashibou Benkei under a cherry tree )#15 in this series of 33.
Signature: “Yoshitoshi hitsu” (from the brush of Yoshitoshi).
Artist’s Seal: Taiso.
Engraver: Horikou Muneoka.
Publisher: Tsunajima Kanekichi.
Format: oban tate-e, H.13 x W. 8.75".
Condition: Very good colors with good impression. Retains full margins and album backing.
No holes or tears, overall very good condition.
Comments: Republished series of first edition published by Kobayashi Tetsujiro in 1883.
The "Musha Burui" series was a transitional one for Yoshitoshi, prior to his more contemplative "Moon" series. There is some violence and action depicted in "Courageous Warriors" but not to the extent of violence and bloodshed in earlier works. Most show a single moment & mood of a historic event.
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
His given name was Yonejiro, and he became a student of the great ukiyo-e artist, Kuniyoshi, at the age of eleven. In 1853, the same year that Commodore Perry’s fleet arrived in Japan, Yoshitoshi composed his first woodblock print, a triptych of the Minamoto and Taira naval battle at Dannoura. His life and prints often mirrored the political turmoil and cultural upheaval besieging Japan in the late 1800's. He is often remembered by his prints featuring bloody and gruesome scenes. However, one of his last series, “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon,” also showed the artist’s talent and innovation. The Moon series exhibited not only technical skill and artistic creativity, but also the pinnacle of Yoshitoshi’s career in terms of emotional maturity.
An excellent resource for information on the Moon series, and on the life of Yoshitoshi, is John Stevenson’s “Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon” (Hotei Publishing, 2001.)