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Utagawa Toyokuni III. 1786-1865.

The following six prints are from the series Tosei Suikoden -Modern Suikoden, pulished by Hayashiya Shogoro between 1858 and 1859. Signed Toyokuni.

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no.1: Bando Hikosaburo V as Samesaya Shirosabu no.2: Ichikawa Ebizo V as Banzui Kokoro Chobei no.3: Kataoka Nizaemon VIII as Yume no Ichirobei. Size: 14 1/2 x 29 1/2 (matted 19 x 34). $1,775 for the triptych.

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no.4: Kawarazaki Gonjuro I as Ude no Kisaburo no.5: Arashi Kichisaburo III as Kaosho Rochishin no.6: Ichikawa Ichizo III as Kyumonryu Shishin. Size: 14 1/2 x 29 1/2 (matted 19 x 34). $1,775 for the triptych.

In this triptych, Toyokuni III depicts not the bandit heroes of the Suikoden, but three famous otokodate, or street knights, of Edo. Like an Edo period Robin Hood, an otokodate fought for justice and the common man. By depicting otokodate with the characteristic tattoos of the Suikoden bandits, Toyokuni III presents these Japanese street warriors as a modern answer to a Chinese classic. Looking to the print on the far right, Toyokuni III renders actor Ichikawa Ichizo as Nozarashi Gosuke with the characteristic nine-dragon irezumi of Kyumonryu, a common tattoo choice of Edo street knights. In the center, actor Nakamura Fukusuke appears as Asahina Tobei, bearing the floral tattoo of Kaosho Rochishin. On the left, actor Kawarazaki Gonjuro plays the role of Ude no Kisaburo, likened to an ascetic warrior.

Tattooing became an important feature of Japanese urban popular culture in the early 19th century, influenced strongly by the success of a series of woodblock prints featuring Chinese martial arts heroes with spectacular tattoos, vividly imagined by the artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Tattoo artists copied designs from the prints and invented new designs that were, in turn, depicted in later prints. The iconography and visual splendor of Japanese tattoos through the prints helped carry the art from the streets of 19th-century Japan to 21st-century tattoo shops all over the world.

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Toyokuni III.

Traditional Japanese Prints.

Twentieth-century Japanese prints.

Works $175 and Under.

Allinson Gallery, Inc.

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