Login/Register

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Fujiwara no Masakiyo (藤原正清) from the series Taiheiki eiyuden (Heroes of the Great Peace - 太平記英勇傳)

Bookmark and Share
Dates: circa 1847 - 1850,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 04-007)
Censor seals: Mera and Murata
Number 22 in a circle - 十十二

Related links: Tokyo Metropolitan Library; British Museum;

Physical description:

The British Museum curatorial files state: "Fujiwara no Masakiyo (the historical Kato Kiyomasa) seated on a campstool on the shore in Korea, pointing over the sea with his fan to the summit of Mount Fuji; two natives, depicted in western style, before him."

****

Illustrated:

1) 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, #73, p. 188.

2) in a full-page color reproduction in Heroes of the grand pacification: Kuniyoshi's Taiheiki eiyū den by Elena Varshavskaya, Hotei Publishing, 2005, p. 103.

Varshavskaya gives the translation of the text as:

[Fujiwara-no Masakiyo] was born in the county of Aichi in Owari province. His father was called Gorōsuke and smith-craft was their family occupation. [Masakiyo] was related to Hisayoshi... on his mother's side. In his childhood Masakiyo was called Toranosuke. At the age of thirteen he arrived at the stronghold of Sunomata in Mino province and entered the service of that general (Toyotomi Hideyoshi). Since his first battle, he often performed military exploits but above all he distinguished himself in the battle of Shizugamine. He contended with Hamaji Shōgen... the unparalleled warrior of the Northern Lands... took hold of him and cut his head off. He fought hand-to-hand with Shōsokabe, killed Kaneko Genpee, the foremost in bravery in Shikoku, and suppressed a revolt in Higo. Once in Kyūshū he battled with Shiyama Danjō, far famed for his strength, and knocked him down with a thrust of his spear and took his head. Countless were his great exploits. The lord... praised him for his meritorious services and granted him a banner with the seven-sign prayer as well as a camp tent-curtain with the words of the Lotus Sutra inscribed on it. [Masakiyo] crossed the sea to the foreign country (Korea). The fame of his bravery and valour reverberated far and wide. He took prisoner two Korean princes, intruded deep into the land of Orangai, and there from the seashore he saw in distant Fujisan, the lotus-like mountain of his home empire. Also his henchmen were yearning for the old dear places of their homeland. The natives called him 'the devil-general' because of the awe inspired by his ferocity and courage. In Higo province he possessed a dominion with revenue of one hundred thousand koku... He died in the castle where he lived. Masakiyo with his valorous spirit is still revered among the great many commanders of our country. Only with Minamoto Tametomo can this general be compared in his immense probity, loyalty and bravery. This is what should be said about him.

The author also wrote: "Katō Kiyomasa is portrayed during Hideyoshi's first Korean campaign of 1592. At the early stage of this war the Japanese army was very successful. Particularly fortunate was Katō Kiyomasa who, having reached the northern borders of Korea, crossed them and continued to fight in the Manchurian territory of Orangai. Katō Kiyomasa appears on this print as a warrior at the pinnacle of his glory. The composition is dominated by his giant figure. Kuniyoshi makes his hero recognizable at a glance: Kiyomasa is wearing his famous helmet shaped as an official hat (eboshi). His haori, a sleeveless cloak worn over the armour, is decorated with wide circles known as a snake-eye pattern, ja-no me. Both these objects became established iconographic elements of Katō Kiyomasa's image. At Kiyomasa's feet two Otangai natives clad in rags are shown. They have European-looking faces with large beards. The foreignness of the natives is reinforced by chiaroscuro, a device commonly used by Kuniyoshi when depicting non-Japanese, mostly Chinese personages. Here, however, the appearance f the Orangai fishermen might not be defined by this convention. In a 19th century illustrated ethnographic publication the image of two Coastal Manchus bear a striking resemblance to Kuniyoshi's representation of two aborigines. Anyway, the fishers' countenance is contrasted in every respect to the of Katō Kiyomasa and thus further emphasises the grandeur and pre-eminence of the Japanese."

****

There is another copy of this print in the Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale.

****

There are 15 prints from this set in the Lyon Collection.