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Artist: Utagawa Yoshitora (歌川芳虎)

Print: Konjin Chōgorō (金神長五郎) struggling with a
three eyed demon. This is from the series
Lives of Brave and Hot-blooded Heroes
(Yūretsu kekki den - 勇烈血気伝)

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Dates: 1866,created
Dimensions: 9.625 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Kinchōrō Yoshitora ga
錦朝楼芳虎画
Publisher: Izutsuya Shōkichi (Marks 188 - seal 24-055)
Carver: Hori Ei
Date seal: 1866, 5th month

Related links: Van Gogh Museum - for a completely different approach to this figure by Kunichika; Lyon Collection - version by Yoshitoshi;Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - a Yoshiiku triptych of otokodate including Konjin Chōgorō ; Lyon Collection - another print from this series;Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Tōken Gonbei from this series; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Ude no Kisaburō from this series;

Physical description:

In 1845-46 Kuniyoshi produced a series of designs entitled Contest of Hot-blooded Heroes in Bold Patterns for the publisher Murataya Ichigorō, a firm which may have published its last print in 1853. Yoshitora, one of Kuniyoshi's students, exact dates unknown, may have started to publish independently as early as 1843. This would mean that Yoshitora was probably aware of the series produced by his master featuring the hero shown here.

In 1866 Yoshitora designed a spectacular set of prints for Izutsuya Shōkichi entitled Lives of Brave and Hot-blooded Heroes dealing with the same heroes of the earlier set by Kuniyoshi, but this time much more up close and personal. Kuniyoshi's figures were smaller, while Yoshitora's practically filled the sheet. And yet the similarities are obvious. Perhaps this was an homage to his teacher who had died in 1861, while possibly attempting to out do the older artists works.

There is a curious difference between the Kuniyoshi version and the one by Yoshitora. In the Kuniyoshi print Konjin Chōgorō is struggling with a green two-eyed monster, while a three-eyed blue monster sits behind them looking on. A monstrous, golden, faux-Buddha is also reacting to the scene and he too has three eyes. (JSV)

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There may have been 8 prints in this series. Two of these are in the Lyon Collection.


Kuniyoshi treated this same theme
approximately twenty years earlier.


1850 Kuniyoshi of Utaemon IV in this role with three-eyed demon on robe.