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Yoshitoshi
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Essays by Yoshitoshi: The Soga Brothers Entering an Enemy Camp in the Rain
(Ikkai zuihitsu: Soga Juro Sukenari, Soga Goro Tokimune)

signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu, with artist's seal Tsukioka, published by Masadaya Heikichi, ca. 1873
oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 9 5/8 in., 36.4 by 24.6 cm
The Soga Brothers, Goro and Juro, were medieval warriors whose lives were recounted in the 14th-century novel The Tale of the Soga (Soga monogatari). The historical tale of the two brothers, which would be retold, elaborated, and embellished in numerous kabuki, Noh, and bunraku (puppet theater) plays, centered around the death of their father and the subsequent vendetta they declared against his killer, Kudo Suketsune (d. 1193). In some adaptations, they attempt to recover an artifact (often a sword) stolen by the killer. A few kabuki plays, most memorably Sukeroku, feature one of the brothers in disguise attempting to avenge his father's death. In this composition, they are depicted in the rain entering Suketsune's camp. Though they would kill Suketsune in this brazen night raid, Juro was slain in the ensuing fight. His brother would not last much longer. In spite of his heartfelt desire to pardon the young warrior, the Shogun would be compelled to execute Goro the very next day.
Published:
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 49
References:
Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 396, no. 280.13
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, 1992, Beauty and Violence, p. 111, no. 23.13 (illus.)
James R. Brandon & Samuel L. Leiter, Brilliance and Bravado, 2002, pp. 26-29 (re: stories)
Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi, 2014, p. 63, no. 91
Philadelphia Museum of Art, accession no. 1978-129-227
price: $ 1,800