Triptych of woodblock prints, nishiki-e, vertical ôban.
Overall dimension 358 x 722 mm
On the right sheet the title Kame no Taramuki
Signature: Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga and Chôkarô Yoshiiku ga
Censorship and date: Aratame, V/1864
Fine impression, colour and condition.
The triptych is inspired by the one designed by Kuniyoshi, Yoshiiku’s master, in 1848. See a fine example in the British Museum, 1907,0531,0.638.1-3. As in the master's triptych, the turtles, symbols of longevity, are portrayed here with the appearance of kabuki actors of the time, a period in which still existed the prohibition to represent the protagonists of the most popular Theater in Edo. This prohibition is circumvented by indicating, with partially hidden characters on the shells of the animals, references to the single actors.
Like the triptych by Kuniyoshi, this one by Yoshiiku is rare to be found complete and well preserved as our example.
Son of the owner of a tea-house, Yoshiiku was a pupil of Kuniyoshi along with Yoshitoshi, six years his junior. From this time dates a life-long rivalry with Yoshitoshi whom, it is reported, he bullied at school. Despite this the two artists collaborated together to draw a few series of prints.
In the wake of his master, Yoshiiku produced drawings for prints of female beauties, warriors and kabuki actors. From 1874 to 1875 the artist produced drawings for prints published by the newspaper Nichinichi Shimbun, of which he was co-founder.