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Utagawa Kunisada, View of Backstage and Dressing Rooms

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865

View of Backstage and Dressing Rooms, Backstage at a Newly Opened Theater
(Odori keiyo gakuya no zu, Odori keiyo nikai-iri no zu)

each sheet signed Toyokuni ga; publisher's seal Hon, Sen'ichi (Izumiya Ichibei of Kansendo), with censor's seal aratame (examined) and date seal Tatsu-ni (year of the dragon [1856], 2nd month)

oban tate-e double triptych 28 3/8 by 29 1/2 in., 72 by 75 cm

In October 1855 the Edo theater district was destroyed by a fire triggered by the Great Ansei earthquake. Only five months later, the first theater to rebuild and reopen was the Ichimura Theater. This print, issued the previous month, would have functioned as a grand announcement in advance of the opening. Although there were prohibitions at the time against portraits of actors, several prominent actors included in the composition are recognizable by their features and mon (personal crests) on their clothing, including, Nakamura Daikichi III, Morita Kan'ya XI, Nakamura Kozo I, Asao Yoroku II, Kataoka Gado II, Onoe Kikugoro IV, Seki Sanjuro III, Nakamura Kantaro I, Ichimura Uzaemon XIII, Sawamura Tossho II, Arashi Kichisaburo II, Bando Hikosaburo IV, Nakamura Fukusuke I, Iwai Kumesaburo III, Ichikawa Komazo VII, Onoe Kikujiro II, Rashi Rikan III, and Arashi Kichiroku I.

References:
Sebastian Izzard, Kunisada's World, 1993, pp. 176-177, no. 92
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.44200a-f (identified actors)

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