Yamamura Koka, Toyonari, 1885-1942
Flowers of the Theatrical World: Nakamura Kichiemon I as Hoshikage Doemon
(Rien no Hana: Nakamura Kichiemon I)
an actor in profile holding a sword, dark grey mica ground; signed Tonyonari ga, with rectangular artist's approval seal, Toyonari, on lower left margin, oval date seal, Taisho ju (Taisho 10 ) at right behind his neck, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 1921 (pre-earthquake)
dai oban tate-e 16 5/8 by 11 1/2 in., 42.1 by 29.3 cm
A portrait of Nakamura Kichiemon I (1886-1954) in full profile on a dark grey mica ground. He wears a dark navy blue robe with brown at his collar, and his hand rests on the hilt of a sword at the lower left corner. The striking actor looks directly forward with virtually no betrayal of emotion. His stark white face (with typical highlights of blue make-up) and jet black hair contrast dramatically against the rich dark mica ground.
The actor is in the role of the Hoshikage Doemon from the play Gosho no Gorozo, first performed in 1864. Doemon is the cunning retainer of Lord Tomoenojo who schemes to separate the former samurai, Gorozo, from his wife, Satsuki, who he wants for himself. After numerous plot twists, Gorozo and Satsuki, both thinking they've lost the other (like Romeo and Juliet), commit suicide at nearly the same moment, but manage to realize their mistakes and pledge their mutual love to each other in their dying breaths.
Several prints from this series have mica grounds, a conscious reference to the okubi-e of Toshusai Sharaku (fl. ca. 1794-95; the enigmatic artists whose work is so hotly pursued).
Kato, Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. I, pl. 143
Reigle Stephens, Amy, gen. ed., The new wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, p. 156, pl. 181
Nihon no hanga III 1921-1930, Toshi to onna to hikari to kage to (Japanese Prints III, 1921-1930: Cities and Women, Lights and Shadows), Chiba City Museum of Art, 2001, p. 42, pl. 12
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site last updated
March 5, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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