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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
Eight Views of Warriors in the Provinces: Fushimi in Yamashiro
(Shokoku musha hakkei: Yamashiro Fushimi)
signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi ga, with publisher's seal Man, hanmoto, Nihonbashi, Manson, Tori Ichi (Yorozuya Magobei of Kineido), carver's seal Horiko Hidekatsu, and combined censor and date seal Hitsuji-ichi, aratame (year of the goat , 1st lunar month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 9 1/2 in., 36.1 by 24.1 cm
The series Eight Views of Warriors in the Provinces (Shokoku musha hakkei) depicts battles from the recently concluded Boshin War of 1868-1869, fought in the early days following the Meiji Restoration (1868). As the new regime began to aggressively consolidate power, forces loyal to the deposed shogun and invested in Japan's traditional balance of political power waged an ultimately short-lived war to restore something akin to the old order. Yoshitoshi would dedicate many compositions to the conflicts surrounding the Meiji Restoration, including both the Boshin War as well as the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion.
The first exchanges of the Boshin War took place on January 27-30, 1868, south of Kyoto at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Imperial forces were outnumbered by those loyal to the ousted Tokugawa shogun by order of 3:1. However, the modern Imperial army presented howitzers, French-made rifles, and a Gatling gun; in contrast, of the over 15,000 shogunal troops, some were armed with pikes and swords while many front-line riflemen were not even provided with bullets. By the third day, the Emperor achieved a decisive victory: the shogun had fled Edo Castle (to the temporary safety of the Kan'ei-ji Temple in nearby Ueno), Osaka Castle was captured, and the balance of power which for 250 years had maintained order in Japan had irrevocably ceased.
This print was issued without the series title portion of text in the red title cartouche, an unusual (but not unheard of) occurrence in the production process. Given the scarcity of the series in general, and this design in particular, it suggests some sort of unknown obstacle in completing the series of only eight designs.
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 36