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Saigō Takamori, No. 17, from the series Personalities of Recent Times

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Saigō Takamori

from the series Personalities of Recent Times

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1888

Kiku moyō enmei bukuro, numbers 1-3, supplements to the Yamato Shinbun

IHL Cat. #926

About This Print

Print number 17(第十七) in the series Personalities of Recent Times pictures the samurai Saigō Takamori (1827-1877) who fought against the shogunate to restore the emperor to power ushering in the Meiji Era (1868-1912); served as a Meiji government statesman and then resigned in 1873; lead the brief, bloody and unsuccessful 1877 Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji government, finally committing suicide nine months after the Rebellion began, walking his dog Tsun.  The scene is set in a quiet moment before the Rebellion and Saigō bears a walking stick and his hound's leash, as well as his sword.  He wears a western shirt and collar under a traditional kimono.

This print was one of twenty published as monthly furoku (supplements) by the newspaper Yamata shinbun2 between October 1886 and May 25, 1888. It appeared in issue 414 (第四百十四, as written in the top margin of the print) of the Yamato shinbun.  These supplements, which illustrated a wide variety of contemporary and historical figures, went to the paper's subscribers.  The portraits are considered exceptionalin execution relative to other news nishiki-e prints.  This is not surprising as Yoshitoshi was designing these prints while he was creating his most famous series, the masterful One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (月百姿).3

1 The numbers shown in the oval at the bottom of the red vertical cartouche are really the sequential supplement number assigned by the publisher the newspaper Yamata shinbun
2 The Yamato shinbun, founded as the Keisatsu Shinpō in 1884, became the Yamato shinbun in 1886 and by 1890 was distributing around 20,000 papers a year. (Source: Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan, James. L. Huffman, University of Hawaii Press, 1997, p. 384, 386.)
3 from the website http://www.yoshitoshi.net/series/jimbutsushi.html

Statue of Saigo Takamori in Tokyo's Ueno Park
Made by Takamura Kōun, it was unveiled on 18 December 1898.

近世人物誌西郷隆盛 月岡芳年画 1888

"やまと新聞附録第十七 西郷隆盛 先には維新の元勲たり、後にハ反賊の首将たり。陸軍大将の服を着て官兵と鋒(ほこさき)を接(まじ)ふ。半生の功業、半生の罪悪。共に非常にして古今未曾有たり。古の奸雄謂へることあり、曰く、大丈夫、芳を百世に流すこと能はざれバ須らく臭を千載に遺すべしと。隆盛一身にしてこれを兼ねたり。後の罪悪や憎むべし、前の功業ハ没すべからず。これを要するに不世出豪傑の称ハ史家の此人に与ふるを吝(をし)まざる所なるべし。其の行事卓犖、傳ふべきもの多し。大率(おおむね)世に表著す故に一々載せず。性甚だ猟を好ミ軍中に在るの日も往々犬を携へて山野を跋渉し従容閑暇、日を消せしといふ。其の胸襟の瀟洒磊落、以て概見すべし。此図ハ其の猟に赴くさまを画きたるものなり。文字三昧楼主人題す"

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Saigō Takamori 西郷隆盛
 Series“Personalities of Recent Times” (Kinsei jinbutsu shi 近世人物誌)  [note: series title is variously translated as “Lives of Modern People” or “Chronicles about the People of Today"] 
 Artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
 Publication Date February 24, 1888 明治廿一年二月廿四日as written in the top margin
 Publisher Yamato shinbun company (Yamato shinbun sha やまと新聞社 )
address: 東京京橋区尾張町二丁目一番地 (Tokyo Kyōbashi ku Owarimachi ni-chōme ichi banchi) as written in the left margin
 Carver彫工圓活 Chōkō (engraver) Enkatsu
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - three areas of paper loss or tear repaired from back; minor bleeding of red ink
 Genre ukiyo-e;nishiki-e shinbun
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper 
 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm) 
 H x W Image 12 7/8 x 8 5/8 in. (32.7 x 21.9 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 2009.026.001; Claremont College Digital Library 44.1.7; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-2994; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 280-C7 and 212-K1-414.