This site requires that you enable Javascript to function properly Scholten Japanese Art | Woodblock Prints | Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) Gen no Sanmi Yorimasa and Ii no Hayata Killing the Nue, a Votive Picture Donated to the Kannon of Asakusa, Painted by Toryuo Ko Sukoku, as Sketched by Kochoro Kunisada
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Kunisada (Toyokuni III)
Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Gen no Sanmi Yorimasa and Ii no Hayata Killing the Nue, a Votive Picture Donated to the Kannon of Asakusa, Painted by Toryuo Ko Sukoku, as Sketched by Kochoro Kunisada
(Asakusa Kanzeon gaku, Toryuo Ko Sukoku hitsu, Kochoro Kunisada shukuzu)

signed Kochoro Kunisada shukuzu, publisher's seal Kyu (Yamamotoya Heikichi of Eikyudo), censor's seal Kiwame, ca. 1820s
oban tate-e diptych 15 1/4 by 20 1/4 in., 38.6 by 51.4 cm
In 1153, the Emperor was suffering from eye inflammation and complained that he heard scratching at night on the palace roof. Suspecting that something supernatural was afoot (and the root cause of both inconveniences), the commander of the palace guards, Gen no Sanmi Yorimasa (Minamoto no Yorimasa, 1106-1180) and his trusted retainer, Ii no Hayata, went out into the night to investigate. Scouting the grounds, they spotted a nue, a mythical creature with the head of a monkey, the body of a badger, the legs of a tiger, and a snake for a tail. With one swift shot from his bow, Yorimasa felled the beast. Hayata rushed forward and finished the job, killing the fallen nue. Following this daring confrontation, the Emperor recovered from his ailments and managed to return to a normal, healthful sleep schedule.
Kunisada depicts Yorimasa and Hayata on their own sheets. Yorimasa stands in rich blue robes, a massive bow in his left hand and another arrow drawn in his right. Hayata wrestles with the nue in the right sheet, directing his dagger towards the beast, whose snake-tail threatens him from behind.
References:
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's Strange Tales, 2005, p. 102, cat. 10 (re: story)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.40125a-b
price: Sold