Hyôshito Rinchû kills officer Riku near the Temple of the Mountain Spirit
Hyôshito Rinchû sanshinbyô no mae ni oito riku gukô o korosu
Colour print from woodblocks, with spattered white pigment (gofun) and burnishing (shômenzuri).
Ôban format vertical diptych.
Publisher: Matsui Eikichi. 1886.
This subject is from the Chinese novel Shuihu zhuan (The Water Margin), known in Japanese as Suikoden, which tells of the legendary exploits of a group of Chinese brigands during the Northern Song dynasty (1101-26).
It was retold in a popular Japanese novel illustrated by Hokusai, and was the subject of Kuniyoshi’s first set of warrior prints in 1827. Yoshitoshi had made earlier prints based on Suikoden, and was evidently attracted by the anti-establishment theme.
Hyôshitô Rinchû (Lin Chong) had been as imprisoned by the minister of war, Gao, but his sentence was commuted to service as a guard at a remote army camp. Still desiring his death, Gao sent one of his officers, Riku (Lu) to arrange Rinchû’s murder, but with the stipulation that he make it look like an accident. Riku set fire to Rinchû’s guardhouse (seen in the distance), but Rinchû was at that time sheltering from the cold in a nearby temple. He was therefore able to surprise his intended assassin and kill him.
The atmosphere of the landscape is heightened by the use of white pigment (gofun) spattered onto the surface of the print, evoking falling flakes of snow.
Purchased from the Rylands Fund with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, 2003