Muraoka of Konoe Family Bound with Ropes

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

 Lives of Modern People, A Supplement of the Yamato Newspaper.


Yoshitoshi shows us the chief Lady-in-Waiting of the Konoe Clan and active supporter of the loyalists who opposed the relaxed policy of the shogunate to foreign trade. As a result of her beliefs she was arrested and badly tortured in in 1858 during the Ansei purges. Despite the privations, she remained steadfastly loyal and she became a folk hero following the collapse of the shogunate government a decade later. Muraoka is pictured bound by rope, her figure distorted with discomfort; she holds a hank of hair between her teeth. Yoshitoshi has drawn her much younger than her actual seventy years. Note the blackened teeth and painted eyebrows of a married woman. Surely, Yoshitoshi has pictured her sympathetically since her support for the traditional regime echoed his own conservatism.


We can consider this a political print. Although it represents the torture of a dissident woman, the drawing and the handling of the figure are exquisite, one of the finest female portraits by Yoshitoshi. There is in this portrayal a sensuousness and tenderness that belie the horrid circumstances of the subject matter.

Date: 1887