19th Century | Empress Jingu on Horseback | Utagawa Toyokuni I

Empress Jingu, also known as Empress-consort Jingu , (c. AD 169–269) was a legendary Japanese empress. The empress consort to Emperor Chuai, she also served as Regent from the time of her husband’s death in 201 until her son Emperor Ojin acceded to the throne in 269. Up until the Meiji period, Jingu was considered to have been the 15th Japanese imperial ruler, according to the traditional order of succession;but a re-evaluation of the extant historical records caused her name to be removed from that list; and her son, Emperor Ōjin, is today considered to have been the 15th sovereign.

Legend has it that she led an army in an invasion of Korea and returned to Japan victorious after three years. However, as there is no evidence of Japanese rule in any part of Korea. Her son Ōjin is said to have been born following her return. No firm dates can be assigned to this historical figure’s life or reign. Jingu’s name before her accession to the chrysanthemum throne — if indeed she did ascent the throne — is said to have been Okinagatarashi-hime.

This 19th century print is in very good condition with visible foxing and toning, good impression and color. Not laid down. All appropriate signatures/seals for woodblocks done by Utagawa Toyokuni I, with Ichibei’s (publisher) red seal on back. Image Dimensions: 9 ½”w x 14 ¼”h.

Additional Information —

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) has long been an enigmatic figure in the history of Ukiyo-e. He has been labeled as an eclectic artist by both Japanese and Western critics because he borrowed the style of others at random. Toyokuni I was a man of considerable talent who, for a short time, held together a great but declining tradition. Toyokuni I produced a body of work containing many of the finest, most notable designs in the history of Ukiyo-e. He is considered, by most authorities, as the last great master of what could be called the Grand Style of Courtesan and Actor print design. The Grand Style refers to that large body of psychological portraits of Kabuki Actors and Courtesan prints, with the tall, languid, semi-realistic female figures fostered by Kiyonaga and continued by Utamaro with his individualized portraits of beautiful women.

Toyokuni was the son of a woodcarver who made puppets and dolls. Growing up in this environment, he was probably stimulated by the activity of craftsmen and their tools. As a youth, he was apprenticed to Toyoharu, founder of the Utagawa School, who was a great exponent of uki-e (scenes in western perspective). In his later life Toyokuni turned his attention to designing actor prints. He formed a fortunate alliance with Izumiya Ichibei, the publisher of many of Utamaro’s ‘bust’ portraits and some of Eishi’s finest triptychs. Ichibei published Toyokuni’s prints for roughly the next decade, which was the period of the artist’s finest work. By 1820, most of the great print designers who had contributed to the Grand Style were dead, and Toyokuni I, the last great master, died five years later.



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