- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Loose, impressionistic lightning sketch. Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII in Shibaraku. Ink and colour on paper. Signed, sealed and inscribed.
- Production date
Height: 139 centimetres (with mount)
Height: 46 centimetres
Width: 42 centimetres (with mount)
Width: 35 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Clark 1992
This loose, impressionistic lightning sketch, with lines that seem to explode out from the centre, captures brilliantly the energy of the 'Shibaraku!' ('Stop one moment!') role, as performed here by Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859). The wildness of both painting and inscription suggests that they may have been done while artist and poet were drunk at some party in support of the actor. 'Shibaraku' is the heavily stylised showpiece of the Ichikawa family, in which with cries of 'Stop one moment!' from the back of the theatre a hero enters down the raised walkway ('hanamichi') to rescue some hapless victim about to be done to death. The voluminous persimmon-coloured robes emblazoned with a huge 'triple rice measure' ('mimasu') crest of the Ichikawa family, paper 'strength' decorations in the hair and massive curved sword of the role are all clearly discernible.
The form of Kunisada's signature, if compared with those on woodblock prints, suggests a date in the mid-Bunka era (1804-18), early in Kunisada's career, when Danjuro VII, too, had just turned twenty. The inscription is by the carpenter turned raconteur Utei (Tatekawa) Emba (1743-1822), who had loyally supported the Ichikawa Danjuro actors since the generation of Danjuro IV in the 1760s and who led the Mimasu poetry group that regularly put out 'surimono' prints of Danjuro VII designed by Kunisada. The poem likens the auspicious call of the spring warbler perched on a flowering plum branch to Danjuro's shout of 'Shibaraku!' and encourages him to stay:
Where the spring rain
A single cry
Of the warbler on the plum -
Hillier, Jack. 'Japanese Drawings from the ijth through the 19th Century'. Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1966, pl. 55.
Hillier, Jack, 'The Harari Collection of Japanese Paintings and Prints'. vol. 1, London, Lund Humphries, 1970, no. 93.
Hillier, Jack. 'Japanese Drawings of the 18th and 19th Centuries'. Washington, DC, International Exhibitions Foundation, 1980, no. 119.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Shibaraku (play)
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.704 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)