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Onoe Kikugoro III as Shimbei in Sukeroku yukari no Edo zakura, by Utagawa Kunisada

Image attached to P.502-1937

An image of Onoe Kikugorô III as Shimbei in Sukeroku yukari no Edo zakura (Sukeroku’s affinity for the cherry blossoms of Edo). Kunisada, Utagawa (Japanese, 1786-1865). Surimono. Colour prints from woodblocks, with metallic pigment and blind embossing (karazuri). Shikishiban. Signed: Kôchôrô Kunisada ga, with artist’s double toshidama seal (left sheet). Poets: Ryûkatei Fûshi Mizugaki and Ryûôtei Hananari (right) and Ryûôtei Hananari (left). c.1830. Ukiyo-e. Notes: Two sheets from a set of five showing a scene from one of the Eighteen Plays (Kabuki Jûhachiban) selected by Danjûrô VII as specially associated with the Ichikawa lineage of actors. The missing central sheet shows Danjûrô VII in the role of Sukeroku. The missing outer sheets show the villain Ikyû (right) and the noodle-seller Fukeroku (left). The print was probably made in connection with a performance planned in Osaka for New Year of 1830. The actors’ journey from Edo is reflected in the imagery of the poems. However, Iwai was summoned back to Edo by the city administration (machi-bugyo), as he was being sued by the head of the Ichimura theatre, so the performance could not take place as planned. Sukeroku is in reality Soga no Gorô, while Shimbei the sake seller is actually Gorô’s gentler elder brother, Soga no Jûrô (he wears a costume decorated with the Jûro’s flying-plovers pattern). Sukeroku learns that his missing heirloom sword Tomokirimaru is in the possession of Ikyû, the patron of Sukeroku’s secret lover Agemaki, who is a Yoshiwara courtesan (see P.501-1937). He subsequently wins the sword back in a fight in which Ikkyû is killed, and escapes with the help of Agemaki. A poem on the sheet depicting Kumesaburo alludes to irises, one of the actor’s symbols, while the reference to Edo purple (murasaki) also alludes to the purple headband worn by Sukeroku in this play: ‘Lovely coloured strands of iris flowers, purple as Edo, flow in streams to Naniwa [Osaka] and knot Agemaki

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Onoe Kikugorô III as Shimbei in Sukeroku yukari no Edo zakura (Sukeroku’s affinity for the cherry blossoms of Edo). Kunisada, Utagawa (Japanese, 1786-1865). Surimono. Colour prints from woodblocks, with metallic pigment and blind embossing (karazuri). Shikishiban. Signed: Kôchôrô Kunisada ga, with artist’s double toshidama seal (left sheet). Poets: Ryûkatei Fûshi Mizugaki and Ryûôtei Hananari (right) and Ryûôtei Hananari (left). c.1830. Ukiyo-e. Notes: Two sheets from a set of five showing a scene from one of the Eighteen Plays (Kabuki Jûhachiban) selected by Danjûrô VII as specially associated with the Ichikawa lineage of actors. The missing central sheet shows Danjûrô VII in the role of Sukeroku. The missing outer sheets show the villain Ikyû (right) and the noodle-seller Fukeroku (left). The print was probably made in connection with a performance planned in Osaka for New Year of 1830. The actors’ journey from Edo is reflected in the imagery of the poems. However, Iwai was summoned back to Edo by the city administration (machi-bugyo), as he was being sued by the head of the Ichimura theatre, so the performance could not take place as planned. Sukeroku is in reality Soga no Gorô, while Shimbei the sake seller is actually Gorô’s gentler elder brother, Soga no Jûrô (he wears a costume decorated with the Jûro’s flying-plovers pattern). Sukeroku learns that his missing heirloom sword Tomokirimaru is in the possession of Ikyû, the patron of Sukeroku’s secret lover Agemaki, who is a Yoshiwara courtesan (see P.501-1937). He subsequently wins the sword back in a fight in which Ikkyû is killed, and escapes with the help of Agemaki. A poem on the sheet depicting Kumesaburo alludes to irises, one of the actor’s symbols, while the reference to Edo purple (murasaki) also alludes to the purple headband worn by Sukeroku in this play: ‘Lovely coloured strands of iris flowers, purple as Edo, flow in streams to Naniwa [Osaka] and knot Agemaki

Image data

  • Accession Number: P.502-1937
  • Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
  • Photographer name: Image Library; Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Image height: 1025 pixels
  • Image width: 909 pixels
  • Processed with: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.0 (Windows)
  • Filesize: 1.10MB

Key words

19th Century acting actor actors blind embossing blossom colour printing costume Edo Period embossed embossing Fitz_PDP floral flowers Japanese karazuri Kunisada male metallic pigment Onoe Kikugoro Otowaya performance performer performing pigment plays poem poetry poets print role scenes surimono theatre theatrical ukiyo-e Utagawa Kunisada woodblock woodcut

Colours in this image

rgb(220,202,168), rgb(46,32,19), rgb(131,78,36), rgb(142,125,97), rgb(160,112,63), rgb(249,241,215), rgb(184,155,110), rgb(179,158,129), rgb(153,151,126), rgb(176,178,156), rgb(100,116,76)

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