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Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), 1786-1865
Comparison of the Fans of Current Actors: Fan of Ichikawa Danjuro VII
(Tosei haiyu hiiki kurabe: Ichikawa Danjuro)
signed Konomi ni makase Gototei Kunisada ga, with censer's seal kiwame and publisher's seal Iwa, Iwatoya, Yokoyamacho Nichome (Iwatoya Kisaburo of Eirindo), ca. 1822
oban tate-e 15 1/8 by 10 1/4 in., 38.5 by 26.1 cm
This early Kunisada bijin series illustrates beautiful women as fans of famous kabuki actors, in each composition the image of the actor is represented within the black lacquer frame of a compact mirror in the upper left or right corner as though the actor is looking through a window to view his supporter and understand their true nature. In this design, an ardent fan of the most-beloved Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859) sits with her arms crossed and her hands tucked behind the collar of her kosode. He stares down at the young beauty with his distinctive large eyes while she tucks her chin down into the folds of her clothing as if she is too shy to meet his scrutinizing gaze.
The scholar Andreas Marks has identified all six known prints of this series to portray actors in roles played in early 1822 and therefore dates this series to that year. In this print Danjuro VII is shown in the role of Konoshita Tokichi Hisayoshi from the play Gion sairei shinkoki, performed at the Ichimura Theater in the 3rd month of 1822.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, acquisition no. 11.42348 , ca. 1818-21