Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Illustrations of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei Visits Zhuge Liang in a Snow Storm
(Sangokushi zue [no] uchi: Gentoku fusetsu ni komei o otonau)
signed Taiso Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Yoshitoshi, carver's seal Horiko Muneoka (Muneoka Nobukichi), and publisher's date and address seal Meiji jurokunen, -gatsu, -ka; Nihonbashi-ku Hongokucho Nichome 9-banchi, shuppanjin Komiyama Shohei (Meiji 16 ) of Komiyama Shobei of Musahiya
oban tate-e triptych 14 3/4 by 29 3/4 in., 37.5 by 75.5 cm
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Ch. Sanguo yanyi) is a famous 15th-century Chinese novel set in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, depicting the end of the Han dynasty. Liu Bei (Jp. Gentoku; 161-223), depicted in the left sheet, would become Emperor of Shin in 221. In the story, he travels with his two most-trusted retainers, Zhang Fei (Jp. Yokutoku; d. 221) and Guan Yu (Jp. Kan'u; d. 220), shown standing together in the center sheet, to persuade the hermetic Taoist scholar Zhuge Liang (Jp. Komei, 181-234) to become his advisor. The reclusive Liang is seen through a circular window of his retreat seated at a table while examining a handscroll, surrounded by scholarly objects including a stack of books. A young boy ventures out into the snowy night to greet the intimidating emissaries at the garden gate, raising his hat in deference to the towering warriors while the wind lifts the fur of their cloaks and their long beards. Though reluctant, Liang is convinced to join Bei by the future emperor's plea that "If you will not, Master, what will become of the people?"
Keyes 1983, p. 455, no. 461.1
Schaap 2011, p. 170, no. 110 (illus.)
Iwakiri 2014, pp. 88-089, no. 123
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