Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Sawamura Gennosuke IV as Nikki Danjo
(Sosaku hanga Shunsen Nigao-e Shu: Sawamura Gennosuke IV)
signed Kunshido Shunsen ga, with artist's seal Shunsen, publisher's seal Watanabe-ko (Watanabe Shozaburo) at right edge, and artist's approval seal Natori at lower right corner, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1928
dai oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 3/4 in., 39.4 by 27.3 cm
The actor is in the role of Nikki Danjo, the lead villain from the popular play Sendai hagi ('Sendai bushclover') which was based on historical events involving a failed attempted assassination of a young heir to the Date clan by disloyal retainers in 1660. The story was adapted and fictionalized by Nagawa Kamesuke, and first staged in Osaka in 1777. The character of Nikki Danjo, an evil magician who was able to transform himself into and out of the form of a rat, became a standard role for leading actors; and the costume of a grey kimono with a patterned band (noshime) across the chest made the wicked wizard easily identifiable on stage and in promotions for the productions. In this depiction, he is holding his hands in a magical gesture that produces the transformation from rat to human form- only moments earlier he was in the form of a rat carrying in his mouth a scroll which reveals the names of the fellow-conspirators. The mark on his head is a wound inflicted by the loyal retainer Arajishi Otokonosuke who hits him with a fan while Danjo is in the form of a rat.
Stage Idols: Japanese Kabuki Theater, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, February 2008 - January 2009
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Natori Shunsen (exhibition catalogue), Kushigata, 1991, no. 39
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 36, cat. no. 36
Arendie & Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, Hotei Publishing, 2004, p. 242, pl. 24.1 (re: play)
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 87
price: $ 1,800
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays, 11am - 5pm, by appointment.
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit.
site last updated
March 19, 2019
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...