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Yoshitoshi: Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with  Courage Prints

Yoshitoshi: Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with Courage Prints

月岡芳年 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi(1839-1892)


芳年武者无类 主计头加藤清正

Kazuenokami Katō Kiyomasa Observing a Monkey with a Writing Brush, from the series of Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with Courage Prints




木版画 | 纵绘大判 | 36cm x 25cm

Woodblock-print | Oban tate-e | 36cm x 25cm




Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, considered by many to be the last great Ukiyo-e artist, excelled at history, warrior and beautiful women ("bijin") designs. 

The characters depicted in this series are famous military commanders . Here we see Kato Kiyomasa, a daimyo (or lord) from the Edo period. Kiyomasa was known as a famous castle builder, and was instrumental in the construction of Kumamoto Castle, Ulsan Castle, Edo Castle, Nagoya Castle and many others. He was also admired for his outstanding military exploits -- and, interestingly, for his enthusiasm for the social welfare of his subjects. Thus, he was a popular print subject. The monkey in this painting is the only animal that appears in the entire series, and we must assume it's important. Perhaps the kindness Kiyomasa demonstrates toward the monkey is the same as he demonstrates toward the common people?

The elaborate title cartouche of each print is an outstanding feature of this series. Take a close look at the carvings of each character. Feibai is also carved very clearly, and it is one of the rare masterpieces to appreciate the beauty of calligraphy.

The visible woodgrain and the rich three-color inscriptions suggest that this is a very well-preserved gem, and an early impression. 

*Feibai: a style of calligraphy characterized by hollow strokes, as if done with a half-dry brush.