Toyohara Kunichika, Actor Sawamura Tanosuke III

Toyohara Kunichika, 1835-1900

Actor Sawamura Tanosuke III as the Courtesan Shikishima
(Sawamura Tanosuke, Keisei Shikishima)

signed Kunichika hitsu with artist's seal Toshidama, publisher's seal Ningyocho, Gusokuya (Gusokuya Kahei), carver's seal Hori Masu (Ota Masukichi), combined censor and date seal Mi-yon, aratame (year of the snake [1869], 4th month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 9 3/4 in., 36.8 by 24.8 cm

The actor Sawamura Tanosuke III (1845-1878) is in the role of the Courtesan Shikishima in the play Koshoku Shikishima Monogatari. The border of the print is decorated with a combination of chidori (plovers) and stylized swirls references the actor's mon (crest). In 1865, Tanosuke fell terribly ill after a wound to his foot became gangrenous. Though he would lose both his feet, he continued acting after his recovery, often supported on stage by black robed men. However, the period that followed the injury was marked by personal, professional, and financial difficulty, and ultimately concluded in his death in 1878.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (, from the Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.16146
Shigeru Aoki, The Samurai World in Ukiyo-e, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2003, no. 123



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