Musha-e: Japanese Warrior Prints
The power and visual strength of the imagery combined with tales of honor and heroism were highly popular among the people of the Edo period. This exhibition features examples of the ukiyo-e genre called “musha-e,” or “warrior prints,” which depicted armored samurai in battle scenes and other historical or legendary settings. Popular literature and theater contributed to the blending of fact and fiction in these prints, creating fantastic figures much larger than life. Utagawa Kuniyoshi brought the genre to its pinnacle of popularity—as indicated by his nickname, musha-e no Kuniyoshi, or “Kuniyoshi of the Warrior Prints.” Four works by Kuniyoshi and one by his student Yoshitora are included. The exhibition also highlights works by such popular artists as Hokusai, Toyokuni I, Kunisada (Toyokuni III), Koryūsai and Shunzan in a variety of formats that include book illustrations, pillar prints, and triptychs in addition to the standard size (ōban) woodblock.