Katsukawa Shunsho / The warrior Watanabe no Tsuna fighting the demon at Rashomon / c. 1770Katsukawa Shunsho
The warrior Watanabe no Tsuna fighting the demon at Rashomon
c. 1770

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Creator Name: Katsukawa, Shunsho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1726-1792 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Katsukawa Shunsho
Title: The warrior Watanabe no Tsuna fighting the demon at Rashomon
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1765
Creation End Date: 1775
Creation Date: c. 1770
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Chu?ban; 28.0 x 21.3 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Katsukawa Shunsho zuARTIST'S SEAL: Hayashi in jar-shaped outline
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1967.642
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold G. Henderson.
Rights: http://www.artic.edu/aic/rights/main.rights.html
Context: As one of the valiant retainers of Minamoto no Yorimitsu (Raiko), the warrior Watanabe no Tsuna (953-1025) assisted in such legendary exploits as the subjugation of Shuten Doji, a hideous ogre who was terrorizing the Kyoto area. Watanabe no Tsuna's most famous single combat, however, was with a demon who appeared initially as a beautiful woman and waylaid him (depending on the version of the tale) either at Modoribashi (Modori Bridge) or Rashomon (Rasho Gate) in the imperial capital of Kyoto. The versionof the incident depicted here takes place at Rashomon- the great southern entrance to the city and frequent site of supernatural goings-on- and had first been dramatized in the fifteenth-century No play Rashomon.After an argument with Hirai Yasumasa as to whether or not a demon haunted the gate at night, Watanabe no Tsuna decides to settle the matter by visiting the spot in person. As he mounts the stone steps of the gateway to set up a warning signboard, he suddenly feels a grasp at his helmet. Drawing the famous sword Hige-kiri (Beard Cutter), given him by Yorimitsu, the warrior severs the demon's arm with a single slash, and the monster flies off with a terrible scream.The demon coiling round the gate pillar has been depicted by Shunsho with the traditional green skin, horns, and tigerskin garment. The cascades of black lines sweeping down from the top of the print serve both to suggest night and to heighten the sense of action, and the curious piece of brocade in the top left-hand corner may be an edge of the feminine costume shed by the demon as it pounces on Watanabe no Tsuna.Warrior subjects were a constant but minor genre within ukiyo-e during the eighteenth century, but about 1770 a rash of such prints appeared by leading artists such as Shunsho, Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820), Isoda Kory?sai (act. ca. 176-1788), and Suzuki Harunobu (ca. 1724-1770, proving that the vogue began before Harunobu's death in 1770). Shunsho himself is known to have designed more than twenty warrior prints in the chu?ban format at this time. The reason for the sudden vogue is difficult to determine; perhaps artists were simply keen to explore the possibilities of the warrior print genre using the new full-color print technology.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1967.642
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998

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