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Scholten Japanese Art Gallery
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Utagawa Kunisada, Heroic Commoners in Kabuki

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865

Heroic Commoners in Kabuki: Asaina Tobei
(Rien kyokaku den: Asaina Tobei)

signed Nanajuhassai Toyokuni hitsu, carver's seal Hori Ota Tashichi (Ota Komakichi), publisher's seal Yorozucho, Hiranoya (Hiranoya Shinzo of Aikindo), combined censor and date seal I-roku, aratame (year of the boar [1863], 6th month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 9 5/8 in., 36.4 by 24.6 cm

The actor Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-1899) is in the tragic role of Asaina Tobei from the play Gokusaishiki musume ogi (The Maiden's Colorful Fan). Tobei accidentally murders his pious and blind stepbrother on a rainy night. Kunisada pictures Tobei in a theatrical pose, sword in hand, in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Reference:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.42875

$900