Practicing Toad Magic, 1884

by Kunichika (1835 - 1900)

Current Status

Practicing Toad Magic, 1884 by Kunichika (1835 - 1900)

Original Kunichika (1835 - 1900) Japanese Woodblock Print
Practicing Toad Magic, 1884

Senso-e - Senso-e are prints depicting wars, most often the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 - 1895 and the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 - 1905. Primarily triptychs, these images filled the journalistic need for illustrations of current activities on the battle front, but also acted as propaganda, encouraging support for the wars and fostering patriotism. These prints emphasized the bravery and success of the army and navy, using dramatic designs and bold compositions, with customers eagerly purchasing the latest prints. Some famous Meiji era artists did senso-e, including Kiyochika, Chikanobu, and Gekko. By the time the Russo-Japanese War came around, woodblock prints had fallen out of favor due to competition with photography and lithography, so fewer designs exist from this time period as compared to the Sino-Japanese War.

Comments - Fantastic supernatural scene of Princess Takiyasha conjuring up several enormous toads. The daughter of the slain warrior Taira no Masakado, she has sworn to avenge his death, and to that end, has learned toad magic from the elderly Iga Jutaro at left. She tilts her chin up defiantly as she grips a naginata in one hand and the end of a scroll containing a magic spell in the other. Iga Jutaro grasps the other end of the scroll, looking up with a grimace as the toads appear in the night sky, their eyes glowing yellow. He wears a shaggy fur vest over a kimono and armor, his long white hair and beard flowing over his shoulders and chest. Another magician stands in between the pair, a heavy brocade robe draped over his shoulders. The sky is framed by tattered reed blinds, with the dark outlines of additional magic toads appearing above the beauty's head at right. From left, the actors are Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Iga Jutaro, Ichikawa Sadanji I as Taro Masakado, and Onoe Kikugoro V as Takiyasha-hime. A terrific image with wonderful detail and color, including embossing on the white kimono and the elder's white fur vest, and bokashi shading in the sky. A great subject.

Artist - Kunichika (1835 - 1900)

Image Size - 13 3/4" x 27 7/8" + margins as shown

Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Three separate panels. Vertical fold at side of each panel. Slight soiling, a few creases and stains. Please see photos for details.

Practicing Toad Magic, 1884 by Kunichika (1835 - 1900)
Practicing Toad Magic, 1884 by Kunichika (1835 - 1900)

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