Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Actors as the 108 Shuihuzhuan Heroes: Iwai Hanshiro VI as Kesei Kisegawa
(Haiyu Suikoden gketsu ippyakuhachinin no hitori: Iwai Hanshiro, Keisei Kisegawa)

unsigned, with publisher's seal Kichi, Ryogoku, Kagaya (Kagaya Kichiemon of Kichibei), ca. 1838, 3rd lunar month

oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.8 by 25.4 cm

This print is an unrecorded right sheet of a diptych by Utagawa Kunisada depicting the popular kabuki actor Iwai Hanshiro VI (1799-1836) as the Kesei ('castle-toppler' high ranking courtesan) Kisegawa from a very scarce Suikoden mitate-e (parody) series featuring actors imagined as characters from the epic novel. The publisher Kagaya Kichiemon (Kichibei), is the same publisher who produced Kuniyoshi's famous circa 1827-30 series, Tsuzoku Suikoden goketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori (One Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Popular Shuihuzhuan).

An extant impression of the left sheet in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston illustrates the actor Nakamura Utaemon IV (1796-1852) as Matano Goryoji and is dated to the third lunar month of 1838. Although no actor was performing under the name of Iwai Hanshiro between the 4th lunar month of 1836 and the 3rd lunar month of 1844, this likeness appears to be a posthumous honoring of Hanshiro VI who died two years earlier than the circa date for this scarce series.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.21992 (left sheet)

(inv. no. 10-5366)

price: $450

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.21992 (left sheet)


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