Fascinating original woodblock print made in January 1877 by the artist Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周) and depicting princess Yaegaki (八重垣姫), the heroine of the famous play “Honcho Nijushiko” (本朝廿四孝), or “The Japanese Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety”. The princess, played by the actor Nakamura Shikan IV (四代目中村芝翫), holds in her right hand the legendary Suwa Hossho no kabuto (諏訪法性兜). It is said that a samurai wearing this helmet would always win and that in case of danger it would also call 808 foxes to protect his owner.
The work, produced by the publisher Kobayashi Tetsujiro (小林鉄次郎), is taken from the “Twenty-four Examples of the New Civilization” (開化廿四好), an interesting and rare series in which the artist pairs kabuki portraits with small scenes presenting modern inventions or modernized activities from the Meiji era (明治時代): in this case the theme is that of the hat and the pairing is between the aforementioned helmet and the chapeau (しゃっぽ), specifically the black bicorne hat with white ostrich feather plumage that can be seen in the upper right corner inset, made by the artist Hayakawa Shozan (早川松山).
The print is in very good general condition, thanks also to an effective relining carried out on the back with another sheet of Japanese washi paper (和紙).