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UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)
PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)

Miyamoto no Musashi Attacking the Giant Whale

Details
UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)
Miyamoto no Musashi Attacking the Giant Whale
Woodblock print, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga
Artist's seal: Yoshikiri
Published by Kawaguchiya Shozo, 1847-50
Censor's seals: Murata (Murata Heiemon) and Mera (Mera Taichiro)
Oban triptych: 36 x 24.5 cm. (14 1/4 x 9 5/8 in.) (3)
(3)

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Jessica Hsu
Jessica Hsu

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Lot Essay

In this extremely rare print, Miyamoto Musashi (1583-1647), famed as a sword master and inventor of the two-sword style of fencing (nito-ryu), is shown plunging his sword into a giant whale off the coast of Higo (present-day Kumamoto prefecture). A strikingly bold composition which creates a strong sense of drama and tension at the moment that Miyamato Musashi subjugates the whale. Kuniyoshi achieves this brilliantly by almost completely filling the space allowed by the triptych format with the body of the giant whale, allowing just enough space around for the turbulent sea and a rather ominous sky at the upper right. The black tonal gradation on the whale's back is produced with a technique of abrading the printing block called ita-bokashi.

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