Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Actors Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Natsume Shirosaburo, Nakamura Kantaro I, Bando Shuka I as Omatsu, Nakayama Bungoro II as Yanushi Shikuro, Arashi Kichisaburo III as Kabu Isohei, and Fujikawa Kaju III

signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, publisher's seal in center sheet Sei of Shimizuya Naojiro, and censor's seals Kinugasa and Murata, ca. 1851 9th lunar month

oban tate-e triptych 14 1/8 by 29 1/8 in., 35.8 by 74 cm

This composition depicts an early scene from the play New Edition of the Thieves Crossing Over (Shinpan koshi no shiranami), a gender-bending thriller. The play centers on the samurai Natsume Shirosaburo, who is tasked with killing the infamous highwayman Jiriaya, and his wife, the fencing instructor Omatsu. Little does Shirosaburo know, however, by night his wife doubles as the notorious gangster. The unknowing samurai brings Jiriaya to justice, only to be avenged by Omatsu's ghost, who murders Shirosaburo whilst being carried across a river upon his back.

The actor Bando Shuka I (1813-1855) is in the role of Omatsu and is depicted in the center sheet holding a baby. To his right is the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) in the role of Shirosaburo. These two actors, who died within months of one another, were frequent co-stars, with Shuka I often playing Danjuro VIII's wife or lover.

In the right sheet, the actor Nakamura Kantaro I is in an unread role standing behind Danjuro VIII. Next to Shuka I in the center sheet, the actor Nakayama Bungoro II (d. 1862) is in the role of Yanushi Shikuro. And in the left sheet, the actor Arashi Kichisaburo III (1810-1864) is in the role of Kabu Isohei, and the actor Fujikawa Kaju III is in the role of Iinazuke Midori. The play was staged at the Ichimura theater in Edo in the 9th lunar month of 1851.

price: $750


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475