by Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861)
Comments - In 940, the rebel Taira Masakado declared himself the "new Taira Emperor" in a challenge to the child emperor Suzaku (923-52). After attacking and seizing the government headquarters of several provinces, Masakado’s forces were quickly defeated and he was killed. The emperor then sent Oya Taro Mitsukuni, one of Masakado’s chief retainers, to Masakado’s ruined Soma Palace to hunt down the rebel's conspirators.
Masakado's daughter, Princess Takiyasha, lived in the deserted mansion, where she practiced sorcery. The palace was said to be haunted by her father's dead soldiers, whom she could summon at will to assume any shape she wanted to fight off enemies. In this incredible Kuniyoshi triptych, the princess reads an incantation from a scroll, summoning a horrific, leering spirit in the form of a skeleton to drive off Mitsukuni. The enormous apparition looms over the figures, pushing aside the tattered reed blinds with its bony fingers. Mitsukuni remains undeterred, glaring defiantly up at the specter as he strikes an enemy with the back of his cased sword while pinning the foe's own weapon to the rotting floorboards.
In the cartouche at upper left, the text reads, "At the old palace of Soma, Takiyasha, the daughter of Masakado, gathered together her allies through witchcraft. Oya Taro Mitsukuni went there to test the demons and eventually destroyed her."
This woodblock reprinting - Edo era originals of this design are virtually non-existent in the market. Kuniyoshi's Skeleton Specter very rarely comes up for sale at any price. Reprints of this design are also exceedingly rare as none of the major 20th century publishers did this design. It was only reprinted by a couple small cottage publishers and copies are nearly impossible to find. Any reprints we have had came through the secondary market from old collections. We have seen only a couple in the last ten years, despite our enormous buying volume. Don't miss this outstanding opportunity to acquire this beautiful old reprint of an outstanding Kuniyoshi image.
This fantastic triptych is one of the all time great ukiyo-e designs and is arguably Kuniyoshi’s masterwork. It is a fantastic depiction of warrior and supernatural imagery, and a testament to Kuniyoshi’s skill at capturing a historic tale in a vivid woodblock print image.
Artist - Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861)
Image Size - 14 3/8" x 30" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Three separate panels. Very slight toning at edge. Please see photos for details. Very nice overall.
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