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Colour woodblock print, okubi-e (large-head) format. Onoe Kikugoro III as Hayano Kanpei in the play Kanadehon Chushingura, performed at the Nakamura theatre, Edo in the seventh month, 1816.
- Production date
Height: 38.10 centimetres
Width: 26.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- One other example of this design recorded (Nakau Ei, Chūshingura ukiyo-e, Tokyo, Ribun Shuppan, 1988, p. 63).
This is one of a set of prints issued with the same elegant pattern of ‘dripped’ colour in three (printed) bands across the background. Five are in the collection of the British Museum (2014,3051.1-5). Four further designs are known from the same group:
- Matsumoto Kōshirō V as Ono Sadakurō, from the same Chūshingura performance (Waseda Theatre Museum, 100-0392)
- Bandō Mitsugorō III as Kō no Moronao (listed in Sebastian Izzard, Kunisada’s World, New York, Japan Society, 1993, p. 55)
- Bandō Mitsugorō III as Teraoka Hei’emon (listed in Shindō Shigeru, Gototei Kunisada – Yakusha-e no sekai, Tokyo, Gurafikku-sha, 1993, pp. 134-5)
- Iwai Hanshirō V as Nuregami no Oseki, from the play Somekaete chō ni kikyō, performed at the Kawarasaki-za in the eighth month, 1816 (collection unknown)
The set can be ranked among the most accomplished half-length actor prints designed by the young Kunisada. Chūshingura, the tale of righteous revenge of the ‘Forty-Seven Ronin’ against the evil Kō no Moronao, is perhaps the most famous of the whole kabuki repertoire and a perennial favourite.
The set is close in date to the seven designs known as Ōatari kyōgen (Great Performances), published by Kawaguchiya Uhei in about 1815, the high-point of Kunisada’s achievements as a designer of half-length (‘big head’) kabuki portraits (see Izzard 19993, pp. 46-51). The series features dramatic portraits with bulging eyes. Finely cut, they are unique among Kunisada’s actor portraits, with backgrounds of shiny silver mica (reminiscent of the famous half-length portraits by Sharaku of 1794-5). BM has the design of Ichikawa Danjūrō VII as Kan Shōjō.
(T. Clark, 12/2014)
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Kanadehon Chushingura 仮名手本忠臣蔵
- Acquisition date
- Registration number