Katsushika Hokusai: A Treasury of Loyalty (Act 6) - Honolulu Museum of Art

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai

Title: A Treasury of Loyalty (Act 6)

Date: 1806

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Source: Honolulu Museum of Art
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The sixth scene of Chüshingura depicts the tragic end of Kampei's life. Ichimonjiya Saibei, who had agreed to take Kampei's wife Okaru into his brothel, has come to pay the remaining half of the contract money and to claim her. Her mother then accuses Kampei of having murdered her husband, Yoichibei. Thinking that he has shot his father-in-law accidentally, Kampei commits suicide before his loyal companions Goemon and Yagorö. He dies vowing that his soul will join his friends to avenge Enya's death. Then, too late to save Kampei, they discover that he is is innocent of Yoichibei's death. This print depicts Yoichibei's tearful widow confronting Kampei in front of his two companions, who still believe their friend is guilty of this crime. Originally a book illustrator, Hokusai skillfully creates this scene as it actually was presented in the theater, showing the outside and inside stages. The interior of the house is suggested by the stage that has columns supporting a roof with no walls. It is surrounded by a spacious outdoor setting, where Okaru is seen being carried away. It combines the outdoor background in Western-style perspective with the interior done in traditional Japanese style. Hokusai was to make the outdoor background into an independent subject of landscape some years later. (Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Hokusai Hiroshige, 1998)

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