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painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1913,0501,0.399

  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. The kabuki actor Segawa Michinosuke I as Shizuka Gozen dressed for travel and standing beneath branches of cherry in full bloom; she holds a bundle tied around her shoulders and carries a large, flat, black lacquer hat and long walking-stick; her kimono decorated with a dazzling pattern of yellow blossoms scattered on stylised flowing water, and one sleeve shrugged off. Ink and colour on silk. Signed, sealed and inscribed.

    [Jap.Ptg.1439] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (a)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (b)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (c)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (T)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (Ta)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1439, image (V)] -

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  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1803
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 93.8 centimetres
    • Width: 25.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, upper left
      • Inscription Content

        瀬川路之助
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Segawa Ronosuke
      • Inscription Comment

        Inscription signature.
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, lower right
      • Inscription Content

        豊國
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Toyokuni
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        image, top
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        桜さく / 頃はしつかに / 歩行哉
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Sakura saku / koro wa shizuka ni / hoko kana
      • Inscription Translation

        In the season of
        Blossoming cherry
        Why not proceed more slowly?
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, lower right
      • Inscription Content

        歌川
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Utagawa
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        image, lower right
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        一陽齋豊國画
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Ichiyosai Toyokuni ga
      • Inscription Translation

        Painting by Ichiyosai Toyokuni
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    Standing beneath branches of cherry in full bloom, the young actor Segawa Ronosuke (who used this name from 1801 to 1807) is dressed for travelling. The female character he plays has a bundle tied around her shoulders and carries a large, flat, black lacquer hat and a long walking-stick. The kimono, one sleeve of which has been shrugged off to accommodate the bundle, is decorated with a dazzling pattern of yellow blossoms scattered on stylised flowing water.

    A short 'haiku' poem, written (and probably composed) by the actor himself, is inscribed in elegantly trailing lines of calligraphy at the top of the painting:

    In the season
    of blossoming cherry
    why not proceed more slowly?

    Aside from the obvious invitation to linger in one's travels and admire the blossoming cherry, the poem contains a punning allusion to the name of Princess Shizuka, who is probably the character portrayed here by Ronosuke. Shizuka's flight to Mt Yoshino, famous for its cherry trees, was the most poignant scene in the play 'Yoshitsune sembon-zakura' ('Yoshitsune and the Yoshino Cherry Trees'), and Shizuka a role particularly associated with Ronosuke's great predecessor, Segawa Kikunojo III. Ronosuke is recorded as having played the role of Shizuka only once - at the Ichimura theatre in the eighth month of 1803 - and it is likely that this is the performance Toyokuni has painted.

    In comparison with paintings of beauties paintings of actors are rare, and since this example is actually inscribed by Ronosuke one can imagine that it was intended as a gift for one of his important patrons.Asahi 1996

    満開の桜の下で、若き歌舞伎役者瀬川路之助(この号の使用は享和元年•1801から文化4年•1807まで)が、肩に荷を掛け漆塗の旅笠を持ち、長い杖を手にして旅支度に身を固めている。流水文に黄色い花が散らされた目もあやな打掛は、荷を担うため肩脱ぎされている。

    図上には、おそらく自作の俳句を路之助が流麗な筆跡で記している。この俳句は表面的には歩みを止め桜を愛でんと誘うもので、路之助がここで演ずると考えられる静御前の名も詠み込まれている。桜で知られる吉野山への静御前の道行は「義経千本桜」の見せ場で、静役は路之助の偉大な養親三代瀬川菊之丞の当り役であった。路之助が静を演じた記録は享和3年8月の市村座での上演しかなく、豊国が描いたのはこの時のことであろう。

    一般に美人画にくらべて役者絵は数が少なく、また本作例には路之助自身が賛していることから、本作例は路之助が誰か大事な客に贈るため特に描かせたものとも考えられる。

    (竹内美砂子(名古屋市博物館))A (male) kabuki actor in female role, dressed in travelling outfit, stands beneath
    a blossoming cherry tree, vying in his brilliant costume with the beauty of the flowers. Shizuka-gozen (dates unknown) was the beloved mistress of the warrior hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159–89) and the character is here shown making her way on foot to Mt Yoshino, where Yoshitsune is in hiding. This is a scene from the famously lyrical kabuki dance in Act Four of the much-loved play Yoshitsune senbon-zakura (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees), which features Lady Shizuka journeying to Yoshino.1 She poses with travelling hat and cane in either hand; the pattern of flowing water and kerria blossoms on her robe is especially alluring. The actor used this name, Michinosuke, between the eighth month, 1801, and the tenth month, 1807. His earlier names had been Sennosuke and Kikunosuke, and he went on to assume one of the most famous female-role specialist names, Segawa Kikunojo- IV (Roko-). Michinosuke is known to have played the role of Shizuka at the Ichimura Theatre in the eighth month, 1803, and this is most likely the performance depicted here. Painter Utagawa Toyokuni I was a leading artist of images of both kabuki actors and beautiful women; the present scroll was probably specially commissioned by an ardent fan of the actor. The haiku poem inscribed directly on the top of the scroll was composed by the actor himself and written in his own elegant calligraphy. It includes a punning reference to the role name (Shizuka): ‘In the season / of blossoming cherry, / why not proceed more slowly?’ (‘Sakura saku / koro wa shizuka ni / hoko- kana’). [NMa]

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  • Bibliography

    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 134 bibliographic details
    • Smith et al 1990 198 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 83 bibliographic details
    • Asahi 1996 86 bibliographic details
    • Clark et al 2013 Cat. 139 bibliographic details
    • Morrison 1911 vol. 2, pl. XXIV bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2013 3 Oct - 2014 5 Jan, London, BM, Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art, 1600-1900

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Performance at the Ichimura theatre in the eighth month of 1803
  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Michiyuki hatsune no tabi (道行初音旅) (related dance)
    • Associated Title: Yoshinoyama (吉野山) (related dance)
    • Associated Title: Yoshitsune senbon-zakura 義経千本桜 (Yoshitsune and the Yoshino Cherry Trees) (kabuki play)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1913

  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1913,0501,0.399

  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1439 (Japanese Painting Number)
COMPASS Title: Utagawa Toyokuni, The Kabuki actor Segawa Ronosuke as Shizuka Gozen, a hanging scroll painting;Utagawa Toyokuni, The actor Segawa Ronosuke as Shizuka Gozen, a hanging scroll painting

Unknown

COMPASS Title: Utagawa Toyokuni, The Kabuki actor Segawa Ronosuke as Shizuka Gozen, a hanging scroll painting;Utagawa Toyokuni, The actor Segawa Ronosuke as Shizuka Gozen, a hanging scroll painting

Image description

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