Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Actors Ichikawa Danjuro VII, Iwai Kumesaburo II and Matsumoto Koshiro V at the Sumida River in the Snow
from an untitled Settsugekka (Snow, Moon and Flowers) series, each signed Oju (by order) Kunisada ga, the center sheet with censor's seal kiwame and publisher's seal Mi (Mikawaya Seiemon), ca. 1825
koban tate-e triptych 7 1/2 by 15 in., 19 by 37.8 cm.
This jewel-like small-format triptych by Kunisada features the extremely popular onnagata Iwai Kumesaburo II (1799-1836) at center, flanked by two other dominating actors, Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859) to the right, and Matsumoto Koshiro V (1764-1838) to the left, as they walk along the Sumida River in the snow. Again we have a view of actors out and about, engaging in every-day activities while showing off their sartorial splendor. The actor's names are not given, but fans would have recognized these kabuki stars. On the right, even with his face covered, the large eyes of Ichikawa Danjuro VII are unmistakable. On the left, the large hooked nose of "Big Nose" Koshiro is the give-away. And at center, the onnagata wears the furisode robe of a young unmarried woman, and in spite of the cold weather, bare feet in the style of a courtesan. The purple cloth (murasaki-boshi) worn by onnagata to cover the shaved pate is secured in place with a hairpin in shape of Kumesaburo's crest.
Sebastian Izzard, Kunisada's World, 1993, p. 109, no. 45
Sato, Mitsunobu, Yoshino Moriyama, and Masako Matsumura, eds., Yakusha natsu no Fuji: Kesho wo otoshita yakusha no sugao, 2000, no. 72
Utagawa Kunisada: 150th Anniversary of His Death, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2014, p. 109, no. 132
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site last updated
February 24, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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