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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Inauye Daikurō Masatada (稲上大九郎正忠) from the series Heroes of the Great Peace (Taiheiki eiyūden - 太平記英勇傳)

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Dates: circa 1847 - 1850,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 04-007)
Censor seals: Mera and Murata

Related links: British Museum; Waseda University; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow;

Physical description:

The Ashmolean Museum at Oxford writes:

Inaue Daikurō, (here Inaue Daikurō Masatada) was a vassal of the Saitō family at the time when Katō Kiyomasa (1562-1622) was called Toranosuke. Daikurō fought with Kimura Matazō (here Shimura Masazō) while Kiyomasa was patrolling Ōmi Nagahama; Kiyomasa reconciled them and they later became his followers. Later, Daikurō achieved much distinction in the battle, including against the Chinese in Korea in 1597. There, he was admired for his remarkable achievement in fighting off a host of more than forty thousand enemies, through his successful use of rifles, and of throwing stones and trees.

This print shows 'Inaue Daikurō' at this battle, discharging a huge cannon as if it were a gun, his sashimono (war-flag) adorned with a skull.

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Illustrated:

1) in Ukiyo-e dai musha-e ten - 浮世絵大武者絵展 - (The Samurai World in Ukiyo-e), edited by Yuriko Iwakiri, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2003, #77, p. 189.

2) in black and white in Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Springfield Museum of Art, 1980, #180.

3) in a full-page color reproduction in Heroes of the grand pacification: Kuniyoshi's Taiheiki eiyūden by Elena Varshavskaya, Hotei Publishing, 2005, p. 153.

The text on the print reads:

[Inauye Daikurō Masatada] was a brave vassal of the Satō house... At the time when [Inaue's] lord still bore the name of Toranosuke... once, while he was inspecting the lands of Nagahama in Ōmi province, he saw two ronin... fighting and stopped them. I'd like to make them my vassals, these two - Shimura Masazō... and Inaue Daikurō, he thought. So since then [Inaue] followed Masakiyo... [Inaue] fought on the battlefields here and there, winning fame in many a province. Above all [he distinguished himself] in the battles on Shikoku and combats in Kyūshū where he defeated formidable enemies, and surprised everyone's eye and ear. Moreover, once in campaign in the foreign country (Korea) he was defending the fort of Tōzan to the north of Uruzan. Military commanders of the Ming Empire, the general-in-chief Rihōshun and the general Kaisei, surrounded [the stronghold] with their vast army of forty thousand men as dense as rice, hemp, bamboo and reed, but [Inaue] made little account of that. He estimated everything and discharged volleys, fired cannons, and also threw down huge trees and stones. Having made sure that thus even such a brave enemy army was thrown into confusion, he suddenly had the castle gates flung open, selected daring warriors and three hundred of them without a backward glance rushed into the midst of countless legions and mowed them down far and wide. How could they stand the attacking force coming from everywhere? - and being cut by [the Japanese] soldiers, they surged back in panic and took to flight. Masatada marched his furious army forward, and the spoils were abundant and easy to get, and then he withdrew the army. On that day wasn't it over a thousand enemies that he killed? The lord on hearing about this kept praising his exploit incessantly.

Varshavskaya gives his real name as Inauye Daikurō Nagayoshi (dates unknown). She also notes the two motifs more common in Chinese art: the pomegranate and the peony.

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There is another copy of this print in the Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale.