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Komagine Hachibyôe aiming his rifle at the viewer

Komagine Hachibyôe

Colour print from woodblocks, with textile printing (nunomezuri). Ôban format,
Publisher: Ôhashi (Daikyôdô). 08/1868
Keyes 223-6

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From the series One Hundred Aspects of Battle chosen by Yoshitoshi (Kaidai Hyakusenso) published in 1868-9 (65 designs were issued).

The series was based on Yoshitoshi's eye-witness observations of the battle of Ueno on 15 May 1868, in which 2000 troops loyal to the last Tokugawa Shôgun, Yoshinobu (1837-1913), were massacred by Imperialist forces. The shogun had surrendered even before fighting began.

It was not allowed to publish prints of contemporary events so Yoshitoshi dressed his series up in the guise of chiefs and warriors from the time before the Tokugawa came to power at the end of the sixteenth century. A modern slant is given by the depiction of contemporary dress and weapons in Western-influenced modes of depiction, such as the dramatic perspectival foreshortening seen here. As with many of Yoshitoshi's prints in the violent and unsettled times of the mid to late 1860s, the series is full of blood and gore.

Purchased from the Rylands Fund with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, 2003