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Natori Shunsen


Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Ichimura Uzaemon XV (1874-1945) as Iriya Naozamurai
(Sosaku hanga Shunsen Nigao-e Shu: Ichimura Uzaemon XV)

silver mica printed over black background; signed Shunsen hitsu (brush of Shunsen), with artist's seal Shunsen; publisher's seal Watanabe ko (Watanabe Shozaburo) near right edge, and artist'’s oval seal Shunsen on lower right margin, published ca. 1925

dai oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 7/8 in., 39.5 by 27.5 cm

An okubi-e portrait of the actor wearing a blue striped kimono with black collar and blue checked under-robe. He wears a mameshibori tenugi (towel with ‘bean’ design) tied around his head, a style associated with playboys and firemen. His make-up highlights his eyes; he stares forward with determination.

The actor Ichimura Uzaemon XV (1874-1945) is in the leading role from the play Naozamurai (Faithful samurai). The story, set in the Meiji period when the samurai class lost their position of privilege, follows Kataoka Naojiro, ironically known as Naozamurai, who has joined a band of criminals. Sought by the police, he tries to escape Edo in a snowstorm, but hears that his mistress, the courtesan Michitose is suffering in his absence. He sneaks into her brothel, and confesses to her that he is not a wealthy samurai but a common criminal; she nevertheless swears her love. The authorities burst in, and Michitose commits suicide in order to be with Naozamurai in the afterlife. This print illustrates Naozamurai in the snow storm, presumably at the moment he decides to return to help Michitose, surely realizing to do so may seal his fate.

Kato Junzo, Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. 3, pl. 150
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, #21
Amy Reigle Newland, gen. ed.,The New Wave, 1993, p. 162, pl 194
Amy Reigle Newland, gen. ed., Printed to Perfection, 2004, p. 88, pl. 73, p. 120 (play summary)
Carolyn M. Putney, Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, 2013, p. 181, cat. 137
(inv. no. 10-4989)

price: Sold


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site last updated
May 23, 2019

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