Mirror Sketches from the Backstage Dressing Room: [Nakamura] Shikan IV
(Shashin gakuya kagami: Shikan)
signed Kunichika hitsu with red Toshidama seal, published by Tsunoi (Tsunokuniya Isaburo), ca. 1868-69
oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 9 5/8 in., 36.8 by 24.3 cm
In this example, Kunichika illustrates the actor Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-1899) brushing on his eyebrows in preparation for a performance. The poem in the lobed-flower cartouche is signed with his stage name, Shikan. He was one of the biggest and most versatile kabuki actors during the later half of the 19th century, traveling often to perform throughout Japan. His talents were nearly equally matched with that of Bando Hikosaburo V (1832-1877), fueling a legendary rivalry between the two virtuoso that apocrypally nearly came to blows.
While few prints from this series are extant, this design seems to be particuarly rare, and possibly unrecorded.
Nobutaka Imamura, ed., Ukiyo-e (Kunichika), Kyoto University of Art & Design, March 2018, p. 13, no. 66
Amy Reigle Newland, Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1999, p. 91, cat. no. 61 (for another print in this scarce series)
(inv. no. C-1262)
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 for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
site last updated
May 5, 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...