This site requires that you enable Javascript to function properly Scholten Japanese Art | Woodblock Prints | Utagawa Kunisada III (Hosai) Stylish Accomplished Sarasa Textiles
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Kunisada III (Hosai)
Utagawa Kunisada III (Hosai), 1848-1920
Stylish Accomplished Sarasa Textiles
(Imayo tachi sarasa)

a set of four actor portraits, each signed Baido Kunimasa hitsu with artist's red Toshidama seal, three with publisher's seal of Tsutaya Kichizo of Koeido, and two with date seal of February 1874
each approximately 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.2 by 25.3 cm
These four sheets are from a rare set of prints presenting leading Meiji Period kabuki actors against a background of vibrant sarasa textiles while exhibiting their stylish incorporation of Western accessories. Although the portraits were issued as single-sheet designs, assembled here they make a striking grouping.
From left to right, Kawarazki Sansho (Kawarazaki Gonjuro I, most famously known as Ichikawa Danjuro IX, 1838-1903), wearing a kimono decorated with his stage name Sansho, which he briefly used in 1873-74. He holds a partially unrolled hanging scroll which mounted with a woodblock print signed Torii Kiyomasu hitsu, and titled Ichikawa Danjuro, Shibaraku. Stylistically, the full face and scowling expression of the actor bears some affinity to other portraits by Torii Kiyomasu II (1706?-1763?) of Ichikawa Danjuro II (1688-1758), the great-great-great grandfather of Danjuro IX. However, it would make more sense to emphasize his lineage by displaying an image of the founder of the illustrious line of actors, Danjuro I (1660-1704), his great-great-great-great grandfather.
The actor Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-99) accessorizes his conventional Japanese clothing with a Western-style umbrella and flaunts his new-fangled pocket watch, the cover decorated with the seal of the publisher Tsutaya Kichizo and open to display the watch face. Sawamura Tossho II (Suketakaya Takasuke IV, 1838-1886) dynamically moves to his left with his right arm raised up gesturing with a pointed index finger. In his left hand he holds a folded bundle of papers, perhaps a libretto, and the edge of a large drum in the background suggest he may be on stage in the midst of a rehearsal. The final portrait is that of Onoe Kikugoro V (1844-1903) seated while glancing to his right, distracted from reading his string-bound book which he holds in his left hand. Kikugoro V and Danjuro IX are two of the most important kabuki actors of the Meiji Period, largely credited (along with Ichikawa Sadanji I, not represented here) with promoting, adapting and revitalizing the genre to carry on and thrive in the modern era.
price: Sold