Pictures of Samurai have been a favorite subject on Japanese prints. This page shows a number of fine Ukiyo-e (Japanese prints) with exciting images of samurai warriors. The prints are originals from the middle of the nineteenth century, made by two great ukiyo-e printmakers, Kuniyoshi Utagawa and Kunisada Utagawa.
First Publication: April 2009
Latest Update: April 2013
The pictures taken on this page, were taken from artelino's archive of Japanese prints sold in art auctions since 2001.
Kuniyoshi Utagawa, 1797-1861 was one of the most prolific printmakers for the genre of samurai prints. A series about warriros, titled Heroes of the Suikoden, made him so famous that he was nichnamed the "warrior kuniyoshi".
"Seichu Gishi Den" (Stories of Faithful Samurai). Mase Chudayu Sasa-aki. This print has an interesting composition. The archer appears to be aiming at the viewer, wherever the viewer stands in relation to the print.
Samurai Wagakawa Kiyohide rides on a black horse into a battle.
This Japanese triptych print shows a naval battle ship loaded with samurai warriors. It is possibly a scene illustrating the Naval Battle of Dannoura.
Kunsada Utagawa, 1786-1865 was a rival of Kuniyoshi. At lifetime he was considered as the greatest printmaker of his time. Kunisada made some 20,000 Japanese print designs during his lifetime - presumably not all by himself, but many by his students. Also among Kunisada's works are many pictures of samurai.
A kabuki scene. Samurai Ohmi Nariie in fighting pose on a stone staircase. This print shows the difference between the samurai images of Kuniyoshi and Kunisada. Kunisada's designs are more stereotype and lack the vividness of Kuniyoshi's images.
Also Kunisada made a series about the 47 Ronin, the faithful samurai who revenged the unjustified death of their lord. The series is titled "Seichu Gishi Den", biographies of Loyal and Faithful Samurai. This picture shows Kaida Yazaemon Tomonobu, one of the 47 Ronin. The story of the 47 samurai, dating from the 18th century, has remained popular until our days.
This picture shows a spectacular fighting scene of samurai in snow and during the night. The triptych depicts a scene from a kabuki play. Kabuki actors are Iwai Hanshiro (right), Nakamura Shikan as Sato Tadanobu and Sawamura Tossho. This Japanese print dates from the 1830s.
I found this slide show with old photographs of real samurai from the 19th century. Thanks to BuffonMusa.
Author: Dieter Wanczura
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