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Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Actors Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Kasugaya Tokijiro and Bando Shuka I as Yamanaya Urazato
the top sheet signed Toyokuni ga within artist's Toshidama cartouche, the bottom sheet signed Kochoro Toyokuni ga, with publisher's seal Kichi (Izutsuya Shokichi), carver's seal Horiko Mino (Koizumi Minokichi, 1833-1906) and censor's seals Fuku and Muramatsu, ca. 1851, 2nd month
oban tate-e vertical diptych 14 1/8 by 19 1/4 in., 36 by 49 cm
The actor scaling the wall is Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) in the role of Kasugaya Tokijiro from the play, Akegarasu hana no nureginu (Raven at Dawn, the Falsely-Accused Flower) by Sakurada Jisuke III (1802-1877) which premiered at the Ichimura Theater in the 2nd month of 1851. The onnagata tied-up below is Bando Shuka I (1813-1855) in the role of his lover, the courtesan Yamanaya Urazato, and the child actor is Bando Kichiya (Bando Mitsugoro VI, 1846-1873) as their young daughter, Katsumi, who also works at the brothel as a kamuro. The roles of both adult actors are identified in the long red vertical cartouches and the child in the yellow cartouche. Tokijiro is about to save Urazato, who has endured a brutal beating at from the house mother, Kaya, at the behest of the brothel owner in order to try to force Urazato to promise to give up Tokijiro who is poor and interfering with the courtesan's earnings. At one point, Kaya turns her wrath on poor little Katsumi and beats her as well. After both Urazato and Katsumi pass out, Kaya leaves them both tied up in the snow-covered garden, from which Tokijiro is able to save them.
Waseda University Theater Museum (enpaku.waseda.ac.jp), accession nos. 101-3704 and 101-3705
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org), accession no. 11.40776 (bottom sheet only)