Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World: Momokawa Engyoku; Ishikawa Mon'ya Katsuaki
(Azuma no nishiki ukiyo kodan: Momokawa Engyoku; Ishikawa Mon'ya Katsuaki)
signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu, with artist's seal Kiri, publisher's seal Tamaso (Tamaya Sosuke), and combined censor and date seal Tatsu-ichi, aratame (year of the dragon , 1st lunar month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.9 by 25.4 cm
A samurai identified as Ishikawa Mon'ya Katsuaki dodges a gang of pursuers by making a daring leap off a cliff with a bloody sword gripped in his teeth (blade exposed outward, of course), from a tale credited to Momokawa Engyoku.
The series Eastern Flowers of Rough Stories from the Floating World (Azuma no hana ukiyo kodan) illustrates episodes of stories as paraphrased in the descriptive cartouches by the writer Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894). Robun was the son of a fishmonger who partnered with the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) to set up shop as a literary subcontractor. He wrote comic fiction and supplied texts for ukiyo-e, and became a frequent contributor to woodblock prints. Published jointly by seven different publishers, the series title includes a pun of the word 'kodan' which phonetically means 'story-telling,' but the first of the two characters is here substituted by one that means 'rough draft' or 'manuscript,' thus emphasizing Robun's abbreviation of the tales. The subjects depicted are from folklore, kabuki theater, and novels, and the names of the storytellers follow the series title in the red oblong cartouche in the shape of a page-turner. Robun's texts are inscribed on the pages of a folded book.
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 19
Peter Duus, 'Japan's First Manga Magazine,' in Impressions, no. 21, 1999, pp. 31-32 (re: Robun)
Amy Reigle Newland & Chris Uhlenbeck, Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Fries Collection, 2011, pp. 89-90
Yuriko Iwakiri, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Taiyo 196), 2012, pp. 60, 286
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