Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
'The Warrior Kashiwade-no-Hatebe Battling with a Tiger Hanshita-e (final drawing)'
Musha-e (warrior print)
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Yamaguchiya Tôbei
Censorship seal: Kiwame
Museum no. E.2251-1909
This is probably one of the earliest extant hanshita-e (final drawing for pasting onto a woodblock for cutting) by Kuniyoshi. This picture, which was never published as a finished print, is a valuable example of Kuniyoshi's skills in design and draughtsmanship.
This is an example of a musha-e or 'warrior print', a genre of prints which represented heroes from history, legend or myth. From an early stage in his career, Kuniyoshi showed a predilection for the romance and mystery of history and legend. His subjects were many and varied, and included incidents from the dawn of Japanese history through to the recent past.
He was particularly interested in the medieval period, much of his work centring on the conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans in the late twelfth century, the rivalry of the Northern and Southern Courts in the early fourteenth century, and the pacification of the country in the late 16th century following decades of anarchy and civil war.
This print can be found in Japanese Print Room Box JP1.