The Golden Gate and the Paulownia Crest: Actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Ishikawa Goemon
(Sanmon gosan no kiri: Ishikawa Goemon, Ichikawa Danjuro)
signed at the lower left, Oju (by special request)Toyohara Kunichika hitsu, with his seal, Toyohara ga-in, title on the right of the figure, Sanmon gosan no kiri, and on the left, Ishikawa Goemon, Ichikawa Danjuro, publisher's seal with dates at the lower left corner, Meiji nijukyunen nigatsu nijuyonnichi, insatsu (Meiji 29 , February 24, printed), -nen -gatsu -ka, hakko (-year, -month, -day, published), rinsha insatsu ken hakkosha Fukuda Kumajiro, with his address in Nihonbashi Hasegawacho, carver Watanabe Tsunejiro's square seal, Nisei Watanabe Hori Ei, 1896
oban tate-e triptych 14 by 28 3/8 in., 35.5 by 72.2 cm
The actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1839-1903) is in the role of the notorious bandit Ishikawa Goemon from the play Sanmon Gosan no Kiri (The Golden Gate and the Paulownia Crest), performed at the Meiji Threatre in March, 1896. This kabuki play was first performed at Dotonbori Kado Theatre in 1778 and was originally part of a five-act jidaimono play called Kinmon Gosan no Kiri. This fictional story takes place at the Sanmon (main gate) of Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto. Goemon was a chivalrous robber who attempted to assassinate the powerful rulers of his time in order to avenge his father's death. The print depicts the famous scene of Goemon, gorgeously dressed and holding a kiseru (pipe), right before he hears about his long-lost father's murder and swears to take on a journey to achieve vengeance. In the end, Goemon is boiled alive along with his child by the orders of the preeminent daimyo, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Kunichika is closely associated with portraits of the three leading performers of their time who were largely credited with revitalizing kabuki: Ichikawa Danjuro IX, Onoe Kikugoro (1844-1903), and Ichikawa Sadanji (1842-1904), collectively known as the Dan-Kiku-Sa. This dramatic compositional format depicting a single actor alone across three panels of a triptych with little else to identify a specific kabuki scene was established by Kunichika in the later years of his career.
Amy Reigle Newland, Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1999, p. 158, Appendix I (on seals)
Andreas Marks, Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, 2011, p. 92, seal no. 30-046
Nobutaka Imamura, ed., Ukiyo-e (Kunichika), Kyoto University of Art & Design, March 2018, p. 99, no. 825
(inv. no. 10-5122)
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