Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

1786-1865

Eight Views of Edo: Nakamura Utaemon IV in Three Roles
(Azuma hakkei no uchi: Nakamura Utaemon IV)

each sheet signed Gototei Kunisada ga, with censor's seal Kiwame and publisher's mark Kyu (Yamamotoya Heikichi of Eikyudo), ca. 1839

oban tate-e each approx. 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.7 by 25.5 cm

This kabuki actor series is a mitate (parody) on the classic theme of Eight Views of Omi (Omi Hakkei). The 'Eight Views' theme was adapted from a classical Chinese landscape grouping of 'Eight Views of the Xiao and the Xiang.' The Japanese landscape version, Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Lake Biwa [Omi]), is a collection of eight famous views from the scenic area around Lake Biwa, which was frequently used as a framework for various comparisons and parodies.

These three prints are from a series of eight in which the actor Nakamura Utaemon IV (1796-1852) is presented in roles likened to landscapes referencing the Eight Views at locations in Edo instead of in Omi (Lake Biwa), and the characters are from the Hanagoyomi iro no showake section of the play Iwai uta Soga no kaomise staged at the Nakamura Theater in the 3rd lunar month of 1939. From the right, Cherry Blossoms in the Sunset Glow at Ryogoku (Hana no utsurou Ryogoku no sekisho) alludes to the Evening Glow at Seta (Seta no sekisho) and shows Utaemon as Cross-dressing Candy Peddler Oman. At center, Flower Madness, Clear Breeze at Otowa (Hana o kyo Otowa no seiran) alludes to Clear Breeze at Awazu (Awazu no seiran) and shows him dancing Suzumeodori. And on the left, Gathering Blossoms, Returning Sails at Fukagawa (Hana o tsumu, fukagawa no kihan) alludes to Returning Sails at Yabase (Yabase no kihon) with Utaemon as the boatman Sendo.

References:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (right and left sheets), accession nos. 11.39322 (right); 11.39323 (left)
Waseda University Theatre Museum, ref. nos. 101-6965; 002-500; 002-1230 (center)

(inv. no. 10-5382)

price: $1,500

kikumon

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