Ghosts of the Taira at Daimotsu Bay

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Japanese

Not on view

The sea itself seems to convulse as an army of ghosts emerges in the distance to menace a ship full of warriors of the Minamoto clan, recalling an ancient battle. In spring of 1185, the Minamoto clan vanquished the rival Taira clan in a decisive sea battle, ushering in a period of warrior rule. Kuniyoshi describes the Taira ghosts with fluid forms in a soft palette, a contrast to the vivid colors and razor-sharp clarity of the foreground. Kuniyoshi often used silhouette—itself a symbol of evanescence—as a method of depicting such ethereal subjects as ghosts, around which developed a genre that became increasingly popular in the nineteenth century.

Ghosts of the Taira at Daimotsu Bay, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861), Triptych of woodblock-printed books (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper, Japan

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