Ishikawa Toyonobu
The Revenge of the Soga Brothers: Onoe Kikugorō I as Soga no Gorō and Ichimura Kamezō I as Soga no Jūrō

Signed: Meijōdō Ichikawa Shūha Toyonobu, artist’s seals: Ishikawa uji and Toyonobu; Publisher’s seals: Tōriabura-chō Hōsendō Maruya and and Maruko han (Maruya Kohei); ōban, 37.5 x 27.3 cm; benizuri-e and kirazuri

The two Soga brothers in the play Haru fukami iroha bunroku Soga. The haiku in the middle states: “With what should one / compare the brothers? / With cherry blossoms and mountain maple” – i.e. spring-like cherry blossom or autumnal maple. “Hana” (blossom, cherry blossom) and “kaede” (maple) can be read together as “blossoming maple”, which might also be an allusion to the fatal connection between the two

Provenance: Murakami; Janette Ostier, Paris (April 1964)
Riese Collection #19

Like so many of the splendid large two-colour prints designed by Toyonobu in the 1750s this print seems to be unique.

The poem reads:

Kyōdai wa
nan ni kuraben

To what may we compare
An elder and a younger brother?
To the flowering maple!

The brothers, of course, are the Soga brothers, and the poem may be saying that we can no more compare the two than we can compare the cherry blossom of spring with the maple leaves of fall.
Hanakaede is a particular form of maple tree, but the word easily divides into “flower” (hana), that is to say cherry blossoms, and “maple” (kaede).

Reproduced in Ingelheim catalogue, no. 24 (colour)
Riese, Asiatische Studien, 1972, p. 79, pl. 7 (colour)