Paul Binnie, Scottish, b. 1967
A Great Mirror of the Actors of the Heisei Period: Actor Nakamura Utaemon as Agemaki in Sukeroku
(Heisei yakusha o-kagami: Utaemon - Agemaki)
with light mica dusted over the printed coral background; the series and print titles at upper left, with numbed limited edition cartouche jusan/hyaku (13/100), signed in sumi kanji, Bin-ni with artist's seal Binnie, date seal Heisei kyu-nen (Heisei 9 ), pencil-numbered and -signed on the bottom margin 13/100, Paul Binnie
dai oban tate-e 17 3/8 by 12 1/8 in., 44.2 by 30.8 cm
This composition is the first design from the Heisei yakusha o-kagami series of five designs published in 1997 which was the artist's third kabuki actor series and featured actors in roles that he saw performed live in his capacity as an ear piece guide at the Kabuki-za in Tokyo.
This print depicts the actor Nakamura Utaemon VI (1917-2001) in the role of Agemaki from the play Sukeroku (Sukeroku). Agemaki is a sometimes intoxicated courtesan of the Edo pleasure district who is deeply in love with a hot-headed patron, Sukeroku. Sukeroku, as it turns out, has ulterior motives for picking fights around the pleasure houses. His father was murdered, and their family's ancestral sword was stolen. In enticing other guests to draw their swords, he is hoping to come upon the sword that was stolen. Driven by her love, Agemaki assists Sukeroku in his investigation, and stands by him when he finally encounters his foe, the evil samurai Ikyu.
Utaemon VI was regarded as one of the greatest post-war onnagata, and formally designated a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government in 1968. In spite of the advanced age which shows on his face, one can be assured that this man had the strength to perform what was a physically demanding role. The elaborate wig alone was a great burden, and one which he wore with grace.
Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 103-108 (re: play)
Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 86, no. 44
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.
site last updated
July 23, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...