Yamamura Koka

Toyonari, 1885-1942

Actor in a Chinese Opera
(Shina shibai seichu den hoshi)

with karazuri ('blind printing') on the large white tassel dangling from his headpiece, with artist's seal Toyonari on the lower left margin, self-published via the Yamamura Koka Hanga Kankokai, ca. 1924

dai oban tate-e 15 3/4 by 10 7/8 in., 40.1 by 27.6 cm

This stylistic portrait of a Chinese actor is extremely rare; it's not recorded in the 1930 Toledo shin hanga exhibition. The subject was likely inspired by a production of Chinese Opera that Toyonari may have attended during his trip to Shanghai in 1921. Chinese Opera is similar to Japanese kabuki, both utilizing all-male casts with elaborate costumes and stage makeup. The design is recorded on a list of Koka's printed works with the title Shina shibai seichu den hoshi, which is can be translated as Opera Actor in Qing Heroic Tale, and the character's name roughly translates as 'Star-Busting Dragon.'

Amy Reigle Newland, et. al., Printed to Perfection: Twentieth Century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2004, p. 83, no. 67
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015, Yamamura Koka (Toyonari) Exhibition History, p. 211

price: $3,800


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site last updated
May 14, 2021

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