Ronin Crossing Ryogoku Bridge

Japanese Print Description

KUNIYOSHI (1798-1861)

 Gishi shijûshichinin honmô o toge jinsû o soro…
Signed:  Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher:  Heikichi
c 1847–50
“Early in the Morning of the 15th Day of the 12th Month, the 47 Loyal Retainers, Having Achieved Their Goal, All Crossed Ryôgoku Bridge with the Head of Their Enemy and Proceeded to the Memorial Temple”. Yuranosuke is bowing to a mounted official.

One of his most popular triptychs, we see why Kuniyoshi is frequently considered to be the master of the triptych format. He was particularly drawn to the story of the 47 Ronin and did 8 triptychs dealing with the night attack alone.

The public was divided as to whether the Ronin were heroes or villains. Their act was illegal. The question of whether they were acting in true samurai fashion, or just conspirators breaking the law, was open to debate.

By waiting a year they had shown the authorities and the public at large that they were not acting in haste. Some observers felt that the plan to wait was unwise as Kira might have died in the interim (after all, he was in his 60s).

The 47th Ronin, Terasaka Kichiemon, who was most likely sent from the attack to notify the Asano family, did not give himself up and was never charged with any crime and would live until 1747, coincidently the year before the play Kanadehon Chushingura would be written.  When he died he would be buried with his comrades at Sengakuji Temple.

The other 46 Ronin would give themselves up to the authorities, knowing full well that they would most likely have to commit seppuku for their act, “a terrible picture of fierce heroism which is impossible not to admire”, Mitford would write in Tales of Old Japan, 1871.

Oban triptych.  Very good impression and colors.  Some trimming, stains, soiling and other generally minor flaws.



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