The Respectable Saigo Takamori Parting from his Mistress Osugi Before His Death, 1877
Ink on Paper
13 11/16 in. x 29 in. (347.66 mm x 736.6 mm)
Triptych; 3 panels not cojoined. Descriptive label on verso of mat.
On mat, in pencil: Marer 383, Yoshitoshi. Text box with Japanese text printed in the upper right of the right panel. Signed: Oju Taiso Yoshitoshi ga. Artist's seal: Yoshitoshi. Carver: Horiko Ginjiro.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban; triptych.
Meiji period Japanese color woodblock print with an image of a group of people, and a woman crying. Triptych. These Yoshitoshi prints of modern hero Saigo Takamori are unauthorized; there are no censors' seals on the prints. Even though the new Meiji Era was to be the "enlightened" period with the incorporation of Western ideals through commercial items, the new government was frail and benefited from the censorship that was established by the Tokugawa government. These prints about Saigo and the battle of Satsuma would have been banned because they dealt with current political figures and rebellions. Yoshitoshi obviously did not witness any of these events; his realistic renderings are wholly conjectural.
Saigo Takamori (1827-1877) was a samurai from the Satsuma domain (now Kagoshima Prefecture) who helped overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and establish the new Meiji government. As the commander of the imperial guards and a commanding general of the army, he maintained security and stability for the new government. However, when the agreement for Japan to re-establish relations with Korea was reversed, Saigo went back to Kagoshima, with several former-samurai disenchanted with the government. Fearing a rebellion, the government dispatched a naval unit to remove weapons from the Kagoshima arsenal. Saigo and his friends thwarted this move, and open conflict began in January of 1877. Saigo then resigned himself to leading a Satsuma army to Tokyo to challenge the government. He is seen here parting from his weeping mistress before leaving with his troops.
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