Utamaro Kitagawa, Faithful Samurai, The Treasury of the Loyal Retainers

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Artist: Kitagawa Utamaro I (1753-1806)
Title: Act IV
Series: The Treasury of the Loyal Retainers (Chushingura)
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudo)
Date: c.1801–1802

Size: 38.5 x 25.1 cm


The scene is from the fourth act of the dramatised adaptation of The Treasury of the Loyal Retainers. The tale follows the plot of forty-seven samurai who give up their lives in order to achieve vengeance for their master, Hangan, who had been forced to commit suicide after being taunted into drawing his sword in the shōgun’s palace by a senior lord. The fourth act of the kabuki play is filled with extreme pathos, showing the preparations for Hangan’s ritual suicide and death. Small vases of anise are placed at the four corners of two upturned tatami mats covered with a white cloth, which are held by the lady standing at the left of the print. Due to the nature of this scene, people were not permitted to leave or enter whilst it was being performed so as not to disturb the atmosphere it required.

More Information
Artist Name Utamaro I Kitagawa
Title Act IV
Subject Beauty & Female, Samurai & Male, Male & Female
Condition Report Minor restoration in the corners. Light creases and discolouration.
Dimensions 38.5 x 25.1 cm