Yoshitora Utagawa, The Battle of Mt. Komaki, Warrior Print, Japanese History


Artist: Yoshitora Utagawa (a.c.1830-1880)
Title: The Battle of Mt. Komaki
Publisher: Sawamuraya
Date: 1868
Size: (L)37.1 x 25 (C)37 x 24.8 (R)37 x 24.9 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

yoshitora utagawa, warrior, samurai, battle, japanese history
yoshitora utagawa, warrior, samurai, battle, japanese history yoshitora utagawa, warrior, samurai, battle, japanese history

Yoshitora was a pupil of Kuniyoshi Utagawa and did a number of warrior prints in a similar style to that of his master. This print illustrates one of battles fought during Sengoku Jidai, a period in Japanese history of near-constant civil war, social upheaval, and political intrigue from 1467 to 1615. This particular episode concerns The Battle of Mount Komaki that saw Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the forces of Oda Nobukatsu and Tokugawa Ieyasu clashing.

While the design doesn't depict any firearms, the scene of the battle seems to be engulfed in smoke and criss-crossed by firing bullets. Introduced by the Portugese in the 16th century, the benefits of firearms were relatively questionable compared to other weapons and were still rather primitive and cumbersome. While they certainly helped winning some of the battles, many warriors still preferred the effective use of swords and other Japanese weapons.

Yoshitora Utagawa

Yoshitora Utagawa was a woodblock print artist active towards the end of the 19th century in Japan. Born in Edo (today’s Tokyo), neither his date of birth nor date of death is known. Yoshitora was a pupil of Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1798-1861), however, he was expelled due to artistic differences. He went on his own path and changed his artist name to Mosai, producing prints of warriors, kabuki actors, beautiful women, and foreigners in particular (Yokohama-e).

The limited contact with the West imposed by the Japanese regime in the Edo period (1603-1868) created endless curiosity that artists were eager to satisfy, although the situations they imagined were sometimes far from being accurate. It is evident from these prints that the Japanese were fascinated by the clothing, the strange habits and the occupations of the foreigners.

For much of the Edo period Japan adopted a sakoku (closed country) policy. Sakoku was a system in which strict regulations were placed on commerce and foreign relations by the shogunate and certain feudal domains. Trade was limited, except for the port of Nagasaki where the Dutch and Chinese were the only ones allowed to operate. In 1859 the port of Yokohama was opened to foreigners, and ukiyo-e artists, primarily of the Utagawa school, produced hundreds of woodblock print designs in response to a general curiosity about the newly arrived visitors.

Yoshitora was a leading designer of these prints and he also produced a number of landscapes derived from Western engraving. In the Meiji period that began in 1868 he also worked for newly established newspapers.

More Information
Print FormatTriptych
ArtistYoshitora Utagawa
SubjectSamurai & Male
Dimensions(L)37.1 x 25 (C)37 x 24.8 (R)37 x 24.9 cm
Condition ReportSome holes, creases.
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