Cover & Preface by Kanagaki Robun

Preface by Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894) & Cover

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Individual Pictorial Biographis of the Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai
(Seichu gishi meimei gaden)

complete set of 50 (49 portraits plus preface) prints in accordion-style album, with printed label (probably from the original fukuro wrapper) titled Seichu gishi meimei gaden, signed Tsukioka Yoshitoshi ga with publisher's firm name Tokokudo shi and red seal Tokokudo; the preface dated Meiji ni Tsuchinoto-mi kishun (Meiji 2, [1869], late spring) and signed Kanagaki Robun kindai (respectfully titled by Kanagaki Robun) with red seal Bun; each sheet (except no. 50) signed Yoshitoshi hitsu or Yoshitoshi ga, most with artist's seal Kiri, and with combined censor and date seal Mi-ni, aratame (year of the snake [1869], 2nd lunar month, examined), and publisher's futatsudomoe seal Marujin (Maruya Jinpachi of Tokokudo) in black, red or yellow; each print numbered 2-50; no. 50 signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsukore with artist's seal Kiri, combined censor seal Mi-ni, aratame (year of the snake [1869], 2nd lunar month, examined), and publisher's seal Shiba Shinmeimae, Maruya Jinpachi han (Maruya Jinpachi of Tokokudo)

chuban tate-e album 10 7/8 by 7 5/8 by 1 1/8 in., 27.6 by 19.4 by 2.7 cm

Stylistically, Yoshitoshi's 1869 series Individual Pictorial Biographies of the Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai (Seichu gishi meimei gaden) is quite similar to the series Stories of the Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai (Seichu gishi den) composed by his teacher, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), between 1847 and 1848. Both identify the subjects by their historical, rather than kabuki, names, and place the warriors in dramatic poses with short biographies against plain backgrounds. That Yoshitoshi had just designed an oban format Forty-Seven Ronin series the previous year should not come as a surprise as Yoshitoshi was following in the footsteps of his teacher who was a master and in many ways an innovator of musha-e (warrior prints). Early in his career, Yoshitoshi produced a number of warrior series, and the loyal retainers (and their kabuki counterpart, Kanadehon Chushingura) were a very popular and marketable theme.

References:
Keyes 1983, pp. 388-391, no. 255
Weinberg 2000
King & Iwakiri 2007, pp. 20-23
Marks 2010 pp. 198-199 (illus. no. 30: Yokokawa Kanpei)
Schaap 2011 , no. 160
Marks 2011 pp. 218-221, no. 294v
MFA, Boston, accession nos. 11.21187-11.21211

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