- Museum number
Colour woodblock print, triptych. Princess Takiyasha summoning a skeleton spectre to frighten Oya Taro Mitsukuni at her father Taira Masakado's ruined palace at Soma; Mitsukuni fending off the princess's henchman Araimaru, by sitting on Araimaru's sword and subduing him with a scabbard. Signed, sealed, marked and inscribed.
- Production date
- 1844 (circa)
Height: 37 centimetres (each sheet)
Width: 25 centimetres (each sheet)
- Curator's comments
- Smith et al 1990
Kuniyoshi's sweeping panoramic compositions use the wide format of the triptych print in a revolutionary way.
Until his defeat and destruction in AD 939, the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado had established himself as the head of a rival 'Eastern Court' in Shimosa Province, in open rebellion against the legitimate court in Kyoto. The scene here is Masakado's ruined palace of Soma, inhabited after his death by his daughter Princess Takiyasha (left), a sorceress. She is reading an incantation to summon up a terrifying monster skeleton to drive away the warrior Oya no Taro Mitsukuni (kneeling, centre left), who has been sent by the court to investigate any surviving conspirators.
Kuniyoshi is said to have possessed a reference collection of imported Western prints and he has doubtless copied some Western medical illustration to produce this harrowingly accurate depiction of the skeleton, as it rips away the tattered court blinds with its bony fingers to menace Mitsukuni.
The story of Mitsukuni and Princess Takiyasha was made into a Kabuki play in 1836, performed again in another version in 1844. It has been suggested that Kuniyoshi produced this essentially 'historical' treatment of the episode to cater to public interest caused by the Kabuki performance of 1844, for the Tempo Reforms had made it for the time being illegal for artists to depict actors or theatrical scenes directly in colour woodblock prints.
Robinson, B. W., 'Kuniyoshi: The Warrior Prints', Oxford, Phaidon, 1982.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2006 Oct 13-2007 Feb 11, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
2009 Mar 21-Jun 7, London, Royal Academy, 'Kuniyoshi'
2010 12 Mar-13 Jun, New York, Japan Society, ‘Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. MillerCollection’
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Transferred from Department of Oriental Manuscripts (August 1915)
- Registration number