Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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Nanke yushi Shijo-nawate nite uchijini. The last stand of the Kusunoki clan at Shijo-nawate in 1348. Kusunoki Masatsura, shown on the far left propped against his fallen horse under a rain of arrows, continues his father’s struggle against the Ashikaga forces. Wada Shinbochi (Genshu) leads the way holding enemy heads followed by Masatomo with a battle standard. Their blue complexions anticipate their imminent demise. Published by Fujioka-ya Keijiro, 1851-2. Robinson T271.


Fine impression. One small backed wormhole on title, otherwise very good condition. Full size. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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A triptych showing Ushiwaka Maru (Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s childhood name), attended by Kisanda, practising fencing with the karasu or “crow” tengu in a forest glade on Mt Kurama, north of Kyoto. His training in martial arts is being supervised by a white-bearded yamabushi tengu, Sojobo, King of the Tengu. (The yamabushi were followers of Shugendo – a shamanistic mountain ascetism.) Yoshitsune (1159-1189) is the best known Japanese warrior and a popular subject for Japanese artists and craftsmen. Famous for exploits such as the battle on Gojo Bridge with Benkei and the battle of Dan-no-ura. Published by Enshuya Hikobei, 1851-2. Robinson T264.


Fine impression. This is the first state with gradation on the rocks top left. Fine colour. Very good condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.


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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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An extremely rare diptych showing Princess Wakana (left) played by Bando Shuka I and the warriors Genkai Nadaemon played by Arashi Rikan III; Washizu Rokuro played by Arashi Rikaku II; Wachizu Shichoro played by Bando Takesaburo I. The play Shiranui monogatari, “The Tale of the White Embroiderer” was performed at the Kawarazaki Theatre, 2/1853. The story (from a late Edo novel) tells of the feud between Wakana and the Kikuchi clan who killed her family. She is rescued by a spider who gives her the power of spider magic which, with the aid of a spider scroll, enables her to conjure up a giant spider to assist her. Published by Kakumoto-ya Kinjiro. This is the only complete impression I have seen and I can only find one other recorded example (listed in the Kuniyoshi Project).


Fine impression and colour. Small edge binding holes, otherwise fine condition Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.


Status: Sold

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Ichiryusai HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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The fish trap in Chikugo Province from Rokuju yoshu meisho zue, “Famous Places in the Sixty-Odd Provinces.” The set published by Koshimuraya Heisuke between 7/1853 and 3/1856 (this being 9/1855). This is the extremely rare first edition and possibly one of the genuine first pulls as it is earlier than the Pulverer first edition. See my blog.


Superb impression of the earliest state with beautiful bokashi and woodgrain showing on all blocks. Fine colour. Two small paper flaws at top, otherwise fine condition. Full margins. Signed Hiroshige ga.


Status: Sold

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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An original painting showing what is probably the most famous encounter in Japanese mythology: The scene is evening on Gojo Bridge in Kyoto where the twenty year old Benkei ambushes samurai to steal their swords. He is shown approaching the flute-playing Yoshitsune. A fight ensues which Yoshitsune wins due to his leaping ability taught to him by the mountain tengu. Yoshitsune pardons Benkei and they become loyal friends. This painting, in shades of sumi, beautifully evokes the crepuscular gloom. On silk, 7 x 9.5 in; 17.75 x 24.1 cms. Painted c late 1870s. Signed Yoshitoshi with Taiso seal.


Status: Sold




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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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A vertical diptych showing Cho Jun, the white stripe in the waves, wrestling in the river with Ri Ki, the black whirlwind. Ronhakucho Chojun kokusempu Riki kochu ni tatakau no zu. The story concerns the river pirate, Ri Ki, who is caught stealing fish by Cho Jun and the ensuing underwater battle. Initially, Ri Ki has the upper hand but Cho Jun challenges him again and they fight until Ri Ki’s compatriots stop the engagement and invite Cho Jun to join their gang. Published by Matsui Eikichi, 1887. This is the extremely rare first state before the publisher and date in left margin. See my blog.


Very fine impression. Fine colour. Slight discolouration to top margins, otherwise fine condition. Full margins all round with ample room for joining. Signed Oju Yoshitoshi hitsu.


Status: Sold

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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The best design from the set Tsuki hyakushi, the “Hundred Phases of the Moon”. The set published between 1885 and 1892 ( this being 1886 ) by Akiyama Buemon. Benkei against a full moon. In 1185 Yoshitsune attacked by his half-brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, was forced to flee to northern Japan by ship. Sailing along the Inland Sea off the coast of Harima Province not far from Kyoto, the ship was struck by a storm in Daimotsu Bay caused by the vengeful ghosts of the Taira warriors Yoshitsune and his men had slain. Benkei pacified the spirits in the prow of the boat by holding up his string of prayer beads.


Fine impression, colour and condition. (A good guide to the quality of the impression is to look at the outline of Benkei’s face: This fine line started to break down early on.) An impression that has not been in an album: Full margins with very extensive mica. Signed Yoshitoshi.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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The ronin Nakamura Kansuke Masatatsu dodging a brazier of hot ash. The best design from a fine set of twelve half length portraits of the forty-seven ronin: Seicho gishi shozo, “Portraits of Faithful Samurai of True Loyalty.” The depictions borrow strongly from western portraiture including imitation western script in the green border of the title cartouche. It is not necessary to repeat the story here as it is the best known Japanese tale. Published by Sumiyoshiya Masagoro, 12/1852.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size. The printing on this set is exceptional with details such as the sword blades and title cartouches burnished. Signed Kuniyoshi ga.


Status: Available

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Kitagawa UTAMARO (1752-1806)




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A beauty reading while having her hair combed from a series of Nana Komachi. The set based on the seven famous episodes in the life of the famous Heian beauty and poetess Ono no Komachi (c 825-c 900). A young woman in a loose yukata is reading a letter that is torn in two while a girl combs her hair. Published c 1805 by Ise-ya Soemon. The Ono no Komachi waka poem reads:


In this world,


Where those who live, die


And those who have died, multiply


How much longer will I,


Be around to mourn?


Fine impression. Exceptionally well preserved colour. Very good condition. On thick, deluxe hosho. Signed Utamaro hitsu.


Status: Sold

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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Onoe Kikugoro V as the Hag of Adachi Moor from the Kabuki play Adachigahara (aka Hitotsuya, “The Lonely House”) performed at the Ichimuraza Theatre 4/5/1890. One of a series of three triptychs showing half-length portraits of actors based on the Snow, Moon, Flowers theme. This being Flowers represented by the yugao,”gourds” – moon-flowers. Considered to be amongst Yoshitoshi’s best designs. The Hag was a cannibalistic old woman who preyed on travellers – especially pregnant women. Published by Akiyama Buemon, 1890.


Very fine impression. Mint condition. The best example I have seen. Signed Okokkeidoju Yoshitoshi ga


Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A poem by Fujiwara no Yoshitaka (954-974) from Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki, the “Hundred Poems Explained by the Wet Nurse.” Published by Eijudo and Iseri, c 1835-6. Although obviously intended to be a set of 100 prints, only 27 are known plus drawings for others. The poet speaks of a trivial life prior to meeting his lover. Two women and their companions relax after a bath admiring the view across water. Steam rises from the bath and two cormorants are seen on the left. A languid scene and one of Hokusai’s most beautiful designs.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size. Two states are known: the printers quickly discovered that the red seal at left was not easily discernable and cut the green block to correct this. Signed Zen Hokusai.


Status: Sold

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Ichiryusai HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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Azumabashi Kinryuzan enbo, “Distant View of Kinryuzan Temple from Azuma Bridge” from Meisho Edo hyakkei, the “One Hundred Views of Edo.” The set published between 1856 and 1858 (this being 1857) by Uoya Eikichi. A spring day with cherry blossom floating down over a boat drifting on the Sumida River. A geisha is partly glimpsed sitting in the boat. In the distance is Mt Fuji, the bridge and temple. See my blog.


Superb impression from the first edition. Fine colour. Fine condition. Signed Hiroshige ga.


Status: Available

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UNSEN




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The dates for Unsen are not known but he was working in the early Meiji period. This original hanshita-e shows Imperial troops defeating the rebellion during the Shimabara riot. (The events took place in 1637/8 although contemporary uniforms and artillery are shown. Comments on topical subjects were often “masked” by being set in a different period.)) A well drawn triptych in good condition using pentimenti. Signed Unsen hitsu.


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Keisai EISEN (1790-1848)




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Itahana from Kisokaido rokujukyutsugi no uchi, “Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido.” The set of seventy prints was started by Eisen and published by Hoeido in 1835, but in 1837 Hiroshige took over and completed the series with the publisher Iseya Rihei (Kinjudo). One of the best designs from the set. This design is never signed, even, as here, on the first edition. Rare.


Fine impression and colour. This is the first edition with gradation on the river and the river bank. Slight centre fold, otherwise fine condition. Ex Pulverer collection and purchased from me in 1974.


Status: Reserved

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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The stern of a large sailing-junk and a smaller vessel infront. A poem by Sangi Takamura (Ono no Takamura) from Hyaku-nin isshu, “The Hundred Poets” published by Ebine c 1838. Depending which story one reads, either Takamura, who was a customs official for ships trading to and from China, went missing on a mission or was reported for being an extortioner and banished to the Oki Islands. Either way, he was subsequently pardoned. One of the best designs from this fine set. Robinson S19.11 and illustrated in Robinson (1961), no. 59.


Fine impression. Very good colour. Remargined top and bottom, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.


Status: Sold

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Keisai EISEN (1790-1848)




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A pair of lovers from the set Keisei higo “The Secret Language of Courtesans.” This fine set of abuna-e (shunga prints that omit any explicit sex – quite literally “risky pictures”) was privately published c 1822-5. The pre-coital coupling is indicated by the wad of tissue slipped into her obi.


Fine impression and colour. Very good condition. This set employs brass into the printing which is often the cause of the paper degrading and falling out. (Not evident here.) Unsigned as always.


Status: Sold

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