Thursday, March 02, 2006

Gratuitous Art (and Violence) Blogging

Battle 2
Battle of Kawanaka-jima by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)

This print is the center panel of a triptych and is reproduced by courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. I had the photograph commissioned with permission from the V&A where the original print (if there is such a thing from a woodcut) is stored and I used it in the design of a book cover. The woodcut dates from c1856.

No fewer than five battles were fought at Kawanaka-jima between 1553 and 1561 (the Sengoku Period) by Takeda Shingen of Kai province and Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo province at this plain which is located in the north of Shinano Province, very near the modern-day city of Nagano. The fourth battle was the fiercest. Heavy losses were sustained by each side but the outcome(s) were inconclusive. I cannot be sure which encounter this picture represents: the battle was a popular topic with Japanese historical artists and many versions exist.

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