Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors: Matsunaga Hisahide Throwing a Cup Against a Pillar Before Committing Suicide
This image is published in "The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi" fig. 21, p.53, mono. and in "Beauty and Violence" fig. 44.4, p.128, mono.
On mat, in pencil: Marer 440. Artist's seal: Taiso. Signed: Taiso Yoshitoshi. Carver: Horiko Muneoka.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban.
Meiji period Japanese color woodblock print with an image of an old man, bare-chested, with a knife in his hand, throwing a cup (which shatters) against a pillar.
Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with Courage is the transitional series from the clamor of Yoshitoshi's early prints—with their astonishing range of design and tone—to the silence of the One Hundred Aspects of the Moon prints, which convey intense, single moods. Many of the subjects in the Warriors are agitated or violent, but every element of drawing, composition, shading, and color is contrived to deepen a single mood, in this case the angry defiance of the aged warrior who hurls the clay cup against the pillar just before committing ritual suicide.
Matsunaga Hisahide (1507-1577) was the chief minister of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru, whom he forced to commit suicide in 1565. Later, Yoshiteru's younger brother Yoshiaki, the last of the Ashikaga shoguns, appealed to Matsunaga for help against Oda Nobunaga, the warlord who had usurped the shogun's powers. In 1573 Nobunaga and his son Nobutada led an attack against Kyoto and drove out Yoshiaku. Nobutada defeated Matsunaga and forced him to commit suicide in 1577.
(Ref. Keyes, Roger, and George Kuwayama. "The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi: The Herbert R. Cole Collection," p. 51)
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