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Natori Shunsen, Actor Ichikawa Sadanji as Marubashi Chuya

Natori Shunsen, 1886-1960

Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: (Supplement) Actor Ichikawa Sadanji II as Marubashi Chuya
(Sosaku hanga Shunsen Nigao-e Shu: Ichikawa Sadanji, Marubashi Chuya)

signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shunsen, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1931

dai oban tate-e 15 5/8 by 10 5/8 in., 39.8 by 27.1 cm

The actor Ichikawa Sadanji II (1880-1940) is in the role of Marubashi Chuya from the Honmaru-jo gaihoribata scene of the play Keian Taiheiki (Record of the Great Pacification of the Keian Period), performed at the Meiji Theater of Kyoto in April 1923. The play tells the story of the Keian Uprising of 1651, a failed coup led by Marubashi's historical counterpart (d. 1651) against the Tokugawa shogunate.

According to the historical account, Marubashi was a member of a group which intended to take Edo castle as part of a larger plan to overthrow the shogunate. However, he fell ill and during feverish dreams, he revealed the secrets of the plan which the Shogun's allies eventually heard about and were able to act upon. Marubashi was arrested and executed, and most of his co-conspirators either committed seppuku or were tortured and killed. The kabuki role of Marubashi Chuya was the lead in the play Keian Taiheiki, and had been portrayed by Sadanji II's father Ichikawa Sadanji I (1842-1904) at the plays premiere in 1870.

References:
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, no. 49
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 38, cat. no. 43
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015, p. 95, cat. no. 43
Minneapolis Institute of Art (collections.artsmia.org), accession no. 2002.161.57

$1,300