Ushiwaka and Benkei Duelling on the Bridge Gojo
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Ushiwaka and Benkei Duelling on the Bridge Gojo, 1881
Ink on Paper
13 15/16 in. x 28 in. (354.01 mm x 711.2 mm)
Triptych; 3 panels are not cojoined. Descriptive label on verso of mat.
Essay: This is a color woodblock print triptych with an image of a fight on Gojo Bridge between the warrior monk, Benkei, and the young Ushiwakamaru, the childhood name of the noted swordsman Minamoto no Yoshitsune. The twisted gestures of the two figures create a tension and even rage between them. The younger warrior (Ushiwakamaru) leaps into the sky to reach for his sword, while Benkei gripps a pole as he lunges forward, stepping on the white cloak that Ushiwakamaru has just slipped off. Created in the mid Meiji period, this print gives the audience a taste of the pseudohistorical ‘legends’ of famous warriors.
Reyna Wang (student, 2016)
On mat in pencil: Marer 20. Seals: right panel - upper right and two in lower left. Signed: Taiso Yoshitoshi. Artist's seal: Yoshitoshi.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban; triptych.
Meiji period color woodblock print with an image of two samurai fighting in the moonlight.
Yoshitoshi was capable of the most extreme exaggeration as well as remarkable restraint. In this picture, the entire body of the warrior priest Benkei seems knotted with rage as he grapples with Ushiwaka's veil after the youth has leapt nimbly from his grasp. About this time the moon began to appear more and more frequently in Yoshitoshi's prints as a silent witness to the passionate and momentous affairs of men.
(Ref. Keyes, Roger, and George Kuwayama. "The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi: The Herbert R. Cole Collection," p. 44)
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