Collection Online
The suicide of Saigō Takamori

The suicide of Saigō Takamori
(Saigō Takamori sepukku no zu 西郷隆盛切腹図)

colour woodblock (triptych)
(a-c) 36.0 × 73.0 cm (image) (overall)
(a-c) 36.7 × 73.2 cm (sheet) (overall)
Place/s of Execution
(a) printed in ink (in image) l.l.: 大蘇芳年 / 明治十年九月 / 大倉孫兵衛 / 彫工銀次郎
printed in red ink (in relief) l.l.: (artist’s seal)
(b) printed in ink (in image) l.r.: 彫銀
(c) printed in ink (in image) u.r.: 西郷隆盛切腹図
Accession Number
Asian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1993
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Gordon Darling Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
Physical description
Saigō Takamori was one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history and is often referred to as ‘the last true samurai’. Saigō was instrumental in overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate and establishing the new Meiji government, but his own conservative attitudes soon clashed with the new government’s policy of modernisation and reform. He returned to his native Satsuma province and in 1877 led a rebellion against the new government. After seven months of intense fighting, the revolt was put down. The exact manner of Saigō’s death is unknown. One popular initial account was that he performed ritual suicide after trying to escape by sea.