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Natori Shunsen, Actor Bando  Hikosaburo


Compare with a triptych of the triplets by Toyohara Kunichika, 1866 view print

Natori Shunsen, 1886-1960

Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Bando Hikosaburo VI as Toneri Matsuomaru
(Sosaku hanga Shunsen Nigao-e Shu: Bando Hikosaburo VI, Toneri Matsuomaru)

an actor with red kumadori make-up holds a large sheathed sword before him; he wears an embroidered white robe decorated with a stylized pine tree, the fabric embellished with karazuri ('blind printing') to convey a heavy brocade and highlighted with white mica; signed at lower left, Shunsen ga with artist's red square seal Shunsen Natori, and publisher's seal Watanabe-ko (Watanabe Shozaburo) below, and with artist's approval seal Natori at lower right, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1928

dai oban tate-e 15 3/4 by 10 3/4 in., 40 by 27.2 cm

The actor Bando Hikosaburo VI (1886-1938) is in the role of Toneri Matsuomaru, one of the triplets from the play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara's Secrets of Calligraphy). Matsuomaru and his two brothers were each named for one of their father's favorite trees. Matsuomaru is a hominim for pine (matsu), hence the motif on his robe. Matsuomaru would be disowned by his father after they found themselves on different sides of a conflict surrounding the exiled statesman Sugawara. His tragedy runs deeper than lost inheritance, however. Once in Sugawara's company, he is faced with the difficult task of protecting Sugawara's son Kan Shusai from the statesman's enemy Fujiwara Shihei and his retainers, who have surrounded the small village where the boy is hiding. Because he is the only man who can positively identify the boy, Matsuomaru switches his own son out for Sugawara's, allowing his child to be killed in Kan Shusai's stead.

Exhibited:
Stage Idols: Japanese Kabuki Theater, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, February 2008 - January 2009

References:
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Natori Shunsen (exhibition catalogue), Kushigata, 1991, no. 34
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 34, cat. no. 30
Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 156-165 (re: play)
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 62

$2,200