Minamoto no Yoshitsune Encounters the Ghost of Taira no Tomomori

Artist: Utagawa Yoshikazu 歌川芳員 (active ca. 1850-1870)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1848-51
Ink, color and hand-applied color on paper
H x W (overall): 36.2 x 74 cm (14 1/4 x 29 1/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, chuban, Edo period (1615 - 1868), ghost, Japan, ocean, ukiyo-e, wave
Provenance research underway.

The Battle of Dannoura in 1185 was the final confrontation between the forces of the Taira and Minamoto families. Led by the young warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the naval battle ended in a decisive victory for the Minamoto. The opposing leader, Taira no Tomomori (1151-1185) committed suicide and his several thousand men were drowned, along with the child emperor Antoku. Later dramatizations and narratives, beginning with The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari) became widely familiar, and the historical story was embellished by legends like the one illustrated here. In this triptych, the Taira ghosts rise in the foreground among turbulent waves. Tomomori raises his sword as he awaits the approach of Yoshitsune's ship. The eerie scene is rendered in somber tones of blue and black. The influence of Kuniyoshi, the preeminent designer of warrior prints, can be seen in the dynamic renderings of the waves and in the fierce expressions of the warriors.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 92, pp. 240-241.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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