Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Mirror of Famous Commanders of Great Japan: Sama no to Yoshitomo and Nasada Soshi Kagemune
(Dai Nippon Mesho Kagami: Sama no to Yoshitomo, Nasada Soshi Kagemune)
signed oju Yoshitoshi hitsu with artist's seal Taiso, published by Funazu Chujiro, ca. 1878
oban tate-e 14 3/4 by 10 in., 37.5 by 25.3 cm
After leading a failed insurrection, the general Sama no to Yoshitomo (1123-1160) took refuge in Owari with his father-in-law, Osada no Shoji Tadamune. Tadamune received him with kindness, but, with his son Nasada Soshi Kagemune, plotted Yoshitomo's death. They concealed three strong retainers by the bath, who would succeed in murdering the general. Yoshitoshi reimagines this scene, adding two additional men to Kagemune's company. Perhaps he intended one to be Kagemune himself.
The composition depicts this frantic episode, with the strong and haphazardly clothed Yoshitomo attempting to fight off the armed men. He fights admirably: one retainer lies debilitated on the floor, while another, back dynamically arched and limbs tangled, is thrust backwards by the general. Two mostly concealed warriors seem to be fighting Yoshitomo as well. A pair of arms grasp at Yoshitomo's chest from behind, and a hand near the left hand margin of the print falls below two kicking legs. Tragically, a fifth warrior stands by the wall, readying himself to deal Yoshitomo a fatal blow.
Will. H. Edmunds, Pointers and Clues to the Subjects of Chinese and Japanese Art, 1934. p. 678-679
Henri L. Joly, Legends in Japanese Art, 1967. p. 582
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
site last updated
May 5, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...