The Fourth Battle at Kawanakajima

Utagawa Yoshitsuna Japanese

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In the mid-1500s, during a period of widespread civil strife known as the Warring States Period, two of Japan’s most famous warlords fought a series of battles in and around Kawanakajima (near the modern city of Nagano) that led to the deaths of more than seven thousand troops. In this triptych depicting the fourth of these encounters, Uesugi Kenshin (1530–1578) and Takeda Shingen (1521–1573) face off on horseback in the lower left foreground while their troops fight aboard rafts in the background. Like his better-known teacher Kuniyoshi, Yoshitsuna specialized in the design of battle and warrior prints.

The Fourth Battle at Kawanakajima, Utagawa Yoshitsuna (Japanese, active ca. 1850–1860), Triptych of woodblock prints; ink and color on paper, Japan

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