Kyosai Kawanabe, Horibe Yasubei, Ronin Samurai


Artist: Kyosai Kawanabe (1831 – 1889)
Title: Having faith finds snake nest (Horibe Yasubei Taketsune)
Publisher: Takekawa Seikichi
Date: 1886
Size: 37 x 25 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

The print is of Horibe Yasubei Taketsune (1670-1703), a ronin (masterless samurai) of Shibata. Orphaned at an early age, the life of Horibe was somewhat tumultuous. Although he was taken in as an heir of the Ako domain for his excellent swordsmanship, his new master also died, sentenced to the samurai ritual suicide of seppuku. The revenge for this incident cemented Horibe Yasubei as one of the forty seven ronin who avenged their master and achieved legendary status in Japanese history.


It is evident in his artworks that Kyosai did not shy away from dissident messages. The handling of this tale of those who defy the law in order to achieve revenge would not have been accepted by the recently fallen Tokugawa government. Under the Meiji restoration more liberties could be taken in regards to political commentaries and artistic content.

Kyosai Kawanabe (1831 - 1889)

Kyosai was born in Shimosa province in a samurai family. He studied as a child under Kuniyoshi Utagawa, then later in the Kano school. Exhibited at the Vienna International Exposition in 2873 and in Paris in 1883. His distinguished painting, largely in the late-Kano manner, includes some excellent bird studies and is often marked by a wild, eccentric humour. He left many lively sketches of great dexterity of draughtsmanship. Also made prints, some of the most iconic ones being of ravens, in a bold, simple style, and caricatures full of fantasy and invention. His work mirrored his life in its wild and undisciplined nature, and occasionally reflected his love of drink. He compensated with a fantastic exuberance, which always lent interest to his technically excellent drawing skills.

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistKyosai Kawanabe (1831 - 1889)
SubjectSamurai & Male
Size37 x 25 cm
Condition ReportSome pinholes. Small stain on the left side and minor creases on the top side of print.