Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Ichikawa Sumizo VI as Shirai Gonpachi
(Shunsen nigao shu: Rokusei Ichikawa Sumizo, Shirai Gonpachi)
signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shusen, the publisher's seal on the lower left margin, Hanmoto, Watanabe mokuhanga ho, with the location in Ginza, Tokyo, ca. 1926
dai oban tate-e 16 by 11 in., 40.5 by 28 cm
The actor Ichikawa Sumizo VI (1886-1971) in the role of the handsome young ronin, Shirai Gonpachi from the popular play Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma (The Floating World's Patter and Matching Lightening Bolts) by Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755-1829) which premiered in 1823 at the Ichimura Theater. The white face makeup emphasizes Shirai Gonpachi's nobel birth, while his youthfulness is signified by the actor's maegami katsura (forelock wig), which would be cut off when a samurai reaches manhood.
After Ichikawa Sumizo VI's kabuki debute, he was adopted by the actor Ichikawa Sumizo V (1845-1906). Sumizo VI had a youthful face, making him suited for young male roles which he continued to perform well-into his older age. Sumizo VI played a significant role in fashioning modern kabuki, taking the name of Ichikawa Jukai III at the Osaka Kabuki Theater in 1949.
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, p. 36, no. 22
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 25, cat. no. 11
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 80
(inv. no. 10-5034)
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
site last updated
October 18, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...