Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: The Great Battle of Yamazaki
Publisher: Yamashiroya Jinbei
Dimensions: (L) 24.5 x 36.3 (C) 24.7 x 36 (R) 24.5 x 36.2 cm
Condition: Restored top right corner of right panel. Some restored holes. Discolouration around margins due to previous mounting.
Except for a few patches of mountain and forest, the whole scene is covered in a dense fog. As fallen warriors squirm and writhe, a few remain dignified amidst the squabble. The Great Battle of Yamazaki in 1582 was a decisive battle for Toyotomi Hideyoshi over Akechi Mitsuhide, confirming his seat as ruler of Japan. Hideyoshi managed to turn Mitsuhide’s advantageous location against him. Lodged in between mountains and rivers, tactically trying to place himself in areas of key defence, Mitsuhide was eventually defeated through a combination of espionage and arquebus fire. This early work by Yoshitoshi, whilst bearing resemblance to his teacher Kuniyoshi Utagawa, already shows the dramatic poses and movement known to the artist. On the right panel a fallen warrior with a broken sword barely manages to get back up again, his dishevelled hair draped over his face. In the left and central panel, a face-off between two warriors becomes the focal point amidst the disarray of the squabble: one thrusts a naginata curved spear with his entire body, whilst his opponent moves to parry from above.