Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Ichikawa Danjuro VIII Memorial Portrait
(Ichikawa Danjuro VIII shini-e)

unsigned, ca. 1854, 7th lunar month

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 3/4 in., 35.8 by 24.9 cm

The death of actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) was a devastating event in mid-19th century popular culture. The beloved Danjuro VIII, belonging to the prestigious Danjuro line of actors for whom many of the most prominent kabuki roles were reserved, committed suicide at a way-side inn while en route to Osaka to perform with his father, Ichikawa Danjuro VII (Ichikawa Ebizo V, 1791-1859). The 30 year old was perhaps kabuki's most-promising rising star. So obsessive were his fans that the barrel of water in which he would briefly hide while in the classic role of the misunderstood ne'er-do-well Sukeroku was later sold at auction for a huge sum. And pastry shops would likewise capitalize on Danjuro VIII's popularity by offering cracked bean paste buns that would replicate the grotesque burns of Danjuro VIII's 'scar-faced' Yosaburo character.

This memorial portrait was based on the right sheet of a triptych also by Kunisada from the 5th month of 1852 illustrating the actor in the role of Motoyoshi Yonosuke from the play Mukashi Banashi Sansho Dayu which had been staged at the Kawarazaki Theater.

price: Sold

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.29521


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