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Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII as Oboshi Yuranosuke
(Ichikawa Danjuro- Oboshi Yuranosuke)

signed Gototei Kunisada ga, published by Iwatoya Kisaburo of Erindo, ca. 1816, 7th month

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 9 7/8 in., 37.1 by 25.1 cm

This print is from an rare untitled series (with only seven designs recorded thus far) related to a performance of the Chushingura (Treasury of Loyal Retainers) given at the Nakamura Theater in Edo during the 7th month of 1816. Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859) is in the role of Yuranosuke, the determined leader of the forty-seven ronin who successfully conspire over a period of two years in order to avenge the wrongful punishment of their master who was forced to commit seppuku due to an unforgivable transgression at the shogun's castle. Throughout most of the play, while the ronin disperse to different locations and to lay low and hatch a plan, Yuranosuke puts on an act of being a degenerate drunk who is incapable and uninterested in seeking vengeance. However, in this half-length portrait Kunisada captures Danjuro VII's interpretation of the other side of the complex character: the assertive Yuranosuke whose unwavering loyalty and cunning planning achieves the revenge he promised his dying master.

Sebastian Izzard, Kunisada's World, Japan Society Gallery, 1993, p. 55, cat. no. 8/1
Utagawa Kunisada: 150th Anniversary of His Death, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2014, p. 70, no. 65
Robert Schaap, Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty, 2016, p. 82, no. 60

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Loyal League: Images from Japan's Enduring Tale of Samurai Honor and Revenge, 2018

price: Sold


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