Toyohara Kunichika, Four Famous Wise Men of the Theater

Toyohara Kunichika, 1835-1900

Four Famous Wise Men of the Theater: Fujiwara Shihei
(Meiyu shikunshi: Fujiwara Shihei)

signed Kunichika hitsu with artist's seal Toshidama, carver's seal Nisei Watanabe Hori Ei (Watanabe Tsunejiro), publisher's seal of Fukuda Kumajiro, dated Meiji nijuyonen - gatsu - ka (Meiji 27 [1894] - month - day)

oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 9 5/8 in., 36.1 by 24.3 cm

The actor Ichikawa Kuzo III (Ichikawa Danzo VIII, 1836-1911) is in the role of Fujiwara Shihei from the play Sugawara denju tenarai kagami (The teaching of the secrets of Sugawara's calligraphy). Fujiwara Shihei is the villain in the story, set in 9th century Heian court, who attempts to discredit the renowned calligrapher, statesman, and eventual god of thunder Kan Shojo (based on the historical Sugawara Michizane, 845-903). Though Sugawara is exiled from the Imperial court, it is Shihei who receives his comeuppance at the end when he is killed by the ghosts of his victims as a revenge for his wicked schemes.

Amy Reigle Newland, Time present and time past, Images of a forgotten master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1835-1900, 1999, p. 133, cat. 111



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
October 21, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475