Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Fujiwara no Yasumasa gekka roteki zu (Fujiwara no Yasumasa playing the flute by moonlight)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Fujiwara no Yasumasa gekka roteki zu (Fujiwara no Yasumasa playing the flute by moonlight)
Signed and dated Meiji mizunoe ushi kishu (Autumn, 1882) ga Yoshitoshi, sealed Taiso and Yoshitoshi
Hanging scroll; ink, color, black lacquer, silver and gold on silk
56¼ x 31in. (140.8 x 78.7cm.)
Ichikawa Danjuro IX, Tokyo
"Dai ikkai naikoku kaiga kyoshin kai" (First government-sponsored exhibition of modern paintings), 1882.10

"Beauty and Violence--Japanese prints by Yoshitoshi 1839-1892," shown at the following venues:
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, 1992.4.17--6.28
Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, 1992.9.6--10.18
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1992.12.19--1993.3.14

Eric van den Ing and Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence (Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum, 1992), pl. P-3.

Lot Essay

Yoshitoshi entered this painting in the first government-sponsored exhibition of modern paintings in the fall of 1882. It won no prize but it served as the prototype for one of the artist's most famous woodcut triptychs, published in February, 1883. So popular was the print, the Shintomi Theater put on a two-part pantomime called Yanagizakura azuma nishiki-e (The Willow and the cherry tree in color woodcuts) starring Ichikawa Danjuro IX, who was the former owner of this painting, as Yasumasa. The dance scene was a smash hit. Yoshitoshi was commissioned to create a maquette of the scene for the Sanno Festival at Hie Shrine that June. Danjuro provided costumes for the life-sized plaster figures. Yoshitoshi painted the figures and designed the robes of the men escorting the float, and he and several of his pupils rode at the front as it made its way through the crowds.

The scene shows the poet and musician Fujiwara no Yasumasa (958-1036) walking along Ichiharano moor in the moonlight. In the grasses lurks a bandit waiting to rob and murder him. Struck by the beauty of the melody, the bandit cannot draw his sword. He follows Yasumasa to his home where the courtier presents him with beautiful new clothes.

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