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Soga no Gorō Tokimune and Gosho no Gorōmaru from the series Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Soga no Gorō Tokimune and Gosho no Gorōmaru

from the series Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1886

Kurō Hōgan Minamoto Yoshitsune and Notonokami Noritsune from the series Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors

IHL Cat. #1829

About This Print

In this print we see Soga no Gorō Tokimune being grabbed by Gosho no Gorōmaru, as Gorō bursts into the Shogun's room seeking revenge for his brother's death.

The Story
Source: The Kabuki HandbookAubrey Halford, Tuttle Pub., 1989, p. .463, 375-376.

"It is a simple story of revenge and filial peity.  Two young samurai, Soga Juro Sukenari and Soga Goro Tokimune, avenged the death of their father who had been killed eighteen years previously in a private quarrel.  Their enemy had risen to be a powerful daimyo and a councilor of the Shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo. Their task was not therefore an easy one. Both brothers were killed after they had accomplished their purpose."

"[Prior to the action pictured in this print] Goro has driven off those who surrounded him and is desperately searching for his brother.  Suddenly he hears the voice of Nitta Takatsuna proclaiming that he has killed Soga Juro Skenari.  In anguish, Goro rushes away.  He makes for the lodging of the Shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo.

"Goro intends to break into the Shogun's room and kill him in order to avenge his brother's death.  The door of the room is pushed open by a figure which, in the darkness, he takes for that of a woman, since it has a woman's cloak over its head.  Goro disregards this person who slips behind him and then catches him in an iron grip.  It is Gosho no Goromaru (or Gorozo), a member of Yoritomo's household, who, although little more than a boy, is famous for the strength of his arms.  He overcomes Goro and makes him his prisoner."

About the Series Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors

Also seen translated as Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with Courage, this series consisting of thirty-three prints was another extremely popular series designed by Yoshitoshi, as at least five versions of each print in the series were issued.  The series was originally published by Kobayashi Tetsujirō 小林銕次郎 (Maruya Tetsujirō 丸屋銕次郎from December 1883 through October 1886, and was also republished by Tsunajima Kamekichi 綱島亀吉(Tsujiokaya Kamekichi 辻岡屋亀吉) in 1886.  The Tsunajima series can generally, but not always, be distinguished by the shape of the signature cartouche, a rectangular cartouche with square corners rather than a rectangular cartouche with rounded corners.  Some sources note that the prints issued by Kobayashi Tetsujirō always have a multi-color title cartouche but, in at least one case, the earlier published print has a simple white title cartouche.  As the publisher's name appears in the left margin of all prints that I've encountered from this series, assuming the left margin is intact, then a simple examination of the publisher's name will tell the tale.

When Yoshitoshi designed this series it was towards the end of his career when he was about forty-four, just before his most famous series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon was issued. "The [Courageous Warriors] compositions depict famous warriors from Japan’s past with an intensity and detailed care that demonstrate Yoshitoshi’s reverence for the role long played by warriors in the formation of Japan."1  "The subject matter of Yoshitoshi’s courageous warriors is drawn mostly from the history of the late Heian period, in particular, the Genpei wars (1180-85) between the Taira (Heike) and Minamoto (Genji) clans and the Warring States period of the mid-15th to late 16th century."2

1 website of the Brooklyn Museum https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/173661
2 Yoshitoshi, Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection, Chris Uhlenbeck and Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 2011 p. 116.
Versions of This Print

   Two earlier versions issued by Kobayashi Tetsujirō both dated October 1886

Three later versions by Tsunajima Kamekichi 綱島亀吉, all undated

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Soga no Gorō Tokimune and Gosho no Gorōmaru
 曽我五郎時宗 五所五郎丸
 Series Yoshitoshi's Courageous Warriors
  芳年武者旡類 Yoshitoshi mushaburui kurō
  [note: series title is also seen translated as "Yoshitoshi's Warriors Trembling with  Courage" and "Yoshitoshi's Warriors Bristling with  Courage" ] 
 Artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
芳年 / 大蘇
Yoshtoshi / Taiso seal
画工 月岡米次郎
artist: Tsukioka Yonejirō
[left margin: artist's name preceded by address in right column]
 Taiso (see above)
 Publication Date
not dated 御届明治 年 月 [left margin]
Issued in 1886
綱島亀吉 Tsunajima Kamekichi (Tsujiokaya Kamekichi 辻岡屋亀吉) [Marks: pub. ref. 549; seal similar to 26-148]

address: 日本橋区馬喰町二丁目十四番地 
publisher: 出版人 綱島亀吉
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - heavy album backing
 Genre ukiyo-e; musasha-e
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper 
 13 7/8 x 9 1/2 in. (35.2 x 24.1 cm) 
 H x W Image 12 15/16 x 8 3/4 in. (32.9 x 22.2 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 加4736-013  (same edition)Los Angeles County Museum of Art M.84.31.88; The British Museum 1906.1220,0.1506