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Ota Masamitsu (Ota Gako), 1892-1975
Figures of the Modern Stage: Actor Onoe Baiko as Fujitsubo (no.8)
(Gendai Butai Geika: Onoe Baiko, Fujitsubo)
signed Masamitsu with seal Ota, publisher's seal Banchoro at lower margin (Myake Koshodo), with the number 172 blind-printed at lower right corner, ca. 1955
oban tate-e 16 3/4 by 10 3/4 in., 42.7 by 27.3 cm
This half-length bust portrait depicts the actor Onoe Baiko VII (1915-1995) in the role of Fujitsubo from the play Genji Monogatari (The Tales of Genji). The play is based on the legendary 11th century story of the same name and was developed for the kabuki stage by Funahashi Seiichi in the early 1950s. In this modern adaptation, which follows some of the general story-line of the classic, Fujitsubo is a mistress of the Emperor who has an ongoing affair with the young Prince Genji. Genji is one of the Emperor's many children, and was known for his unbridled sexual activity. The continuation of their affair, as well as the others in which Genji was engaged, put them both in danger, especially after the Emperor abdicated the throne and less friendly actors rose to political power. At the end of the play, Genji leaves Kyoto to live in exile in the desolate land of Sumaro, while Fujitsubo retires to a convent to become a nun.