Heroes of the Storehouse of Loyal Retainers: Actors Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Yasama Jutaro and Bando Shuka I as his wife Orie
(Chushingura meimei den: Ichikawa Danjuro, Yazama Jutaro; Bando Shuka, Nyobo Orie)
signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, with censor's seal aratame (examined), date seal U-kyu (year of the hare ), and publisher's seal Shitaya, Uoei of Sakanaya Eikichi
oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 3/4 in., 35.8 by 24.8 cm
This composition depicts an important pairing of actors from an otherwise conventional Chushingura series. The actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) is in the role of Yasama Jutaro, and the actor Bando Shuka I (1813-1855) is in the role of his wife, Orie. Notably, this is a posthumous portrait of both actors: Danjuro VIII had committed suicide the previous year, and Shuka I had died in Edo just six months prior to the print's publication. The two were frequently cast as a couple, with Danjuro VIII playing the tachiyaku (actor specializing in male roles, as a counter-part to an onnagata). Both were essentially, A-list celebrities, and were considered to be two of the great performers of their time.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.43572
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