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Artist: Katsukawa Shunzan (勝川春山)

Print: Tomoe Gozen [巴御前] on horseback twisting off the head of Onda no Hachirō Moroshige [御田八郎師重]

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Dates: 1790s,created
Dimensions: 9.625 in,14.0125 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Katsu Shunzan ga (勝春山画)
Publisher: Sōshūya Yohei
(Marks 485 - seal 21-081)
Censor seal: kiwame

Related links: Lyon Collection - Shunkō print of the same encounter;

Physical description:

"Tomoe Gozen, casting a somewhat disdainful glance at her opponent, seems disengaged from the decapitation she is about to inflict on her opponent, who, with grood cause, is completely terror-stricken. Unlike Shunshō's earlier rendition of the same subject... the two opponents in Shunzan's composition are well differentiated from each other. Tomoe's horse is used effectively to draw the viewer's eye first to the mount and then to the scene of conflict. In contrast to the earlier print by Shunshō, the action in this print is presented with great immediacy.

Shunzan, a pupil of Katsukawa Shunshō, is sometimes criticized as an overly mannered artist who never fully exploited his enormous technical skills.... As is often the case with the depiction of female warriors in Ukiyo-e, however, Tomoe Gozen is seen to be exceptionally demure even in the midst of battle."

Quoted from: Japanese Warrior Prints 1646-1905 by James King and Yuriko Iwakiri, p. 125. There is a full-page color illustration on p. 124.

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"Tomoe Gozen was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors."

From The Tale of the Heike.

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Illustrated in Ukiyo-e dai musha-e ten - 浮世絵大武者絵展 - (The Samurai World in Ukiyo-e), edited by Yuriko Iwakiri, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2003, #80, p. 35.