The Loyal League: Images from Japan’s Enduring Tale of Samurai Honor and Revenge

The Loyal League of 47 samurai, or commonly known in Japan as Chūshingura (literally The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), is the most significant samurai loyalty-revenge story. It has come to encompass a historical incident and all subsequent related theatrical, literary, and visual materials. Drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection and supplemented with private loans, this exhibition examines the wide-ranging pictorial representations of the drama Chūshingura in the flourishing ukiyo (floating-world) woodblock prints and illustrated books, and paintings from the late 18th through the 19th centuries. Images range from stage-like representations to landscape prints with incidental but identifiable figures, from theatrical figural stances to bust-portraits glorifying individual heroes or actors. The works in the exhibition include prints by ukiyo-e print artists Utamaro, Toyokuni, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, and Kunisada, and paintings by Kinkoku and Nichōsai.

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