The Faithful Samurai: Kuniyoshi Woodblock Prints illustrates one of the most famous stories of revenge in Japanese history, outlining the exploits of the forty-seven Ronin (masterless samurai) who avenged the death of their lord in the early eighteenth century. Their story, the Chushingura, or “Treasury of Loyal Hearts,” illustrates and defines the Japanese concept of loyalty, providing a supreme example of the samurai ideals of cool courage and fidelity. The exhibition tells this tale through stunning triptychs, warrior prints, and bust portraits by Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861).
The works in this exhibition are on loan from the David R. Weinberg collection. A collector of Japanese woodblock prints for over twenty years, Weinberg is an international educator and scholar. He is an active member of the Michigan Oriental Art Society, which held an exhibition of the prints in fall 2003 at the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, University of Michigan, Dearborn, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the events of the forty-seven Ronin. The guest curator for Faithful Samurai is David Pepper, an independent curator based in Canada who has worked on a number of Japanese exhibitions. He is a specialist in Japanese artifacts
The Wife of Onodera Junai (Onodera Junai no tsuma), 1848, Utagawa Kuniyoshi
The Faithful Samurai: Kuniyoshi Woodblock Prints is organized by the Michigan Oriental Art Society and toured by ExhibitsUSA. The purpose of ExhibitsUSA is to create access to an array of arts and humanities exhibitions, nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1972.
ExhibitsUSA is generously supported by the Altria Group Inc.; James H. Clement, Jr.; the Cooper Foundation; DST Systems Inc.; Edward Jones; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the Helen Jones Foundation; the William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, trustee; the Richard P. Kimmel and Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation Inc.; Land O’ Lakes Inc.; Mrs. Tom Lea; Adair Margo Gallery Inc.; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; SBC Missouri; the Society of North American Goldsmiths; Sonic, America’s Drive-In; Sterling Vineyards; the Summerlee Foundation; the Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust; Valmont Industries; the Woods Charitable Fund; and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. ExhibitsUSA is a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.