New Versions of Figures on the Stage: Actor Nakamura Kichiemon I as Kumagai Naozane
(Shinpan butai no sugata-e: Nakamura Kichiemon, Kumagai Naozane)
with mica ground, signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shunsen, publisher's seal Watanabe (Watanabe Shozaburo), dated Showa nijunananen ichigatsu saku (made in Showa 27 , January)
dai oban tate-e 16 by 10 7/8 in., 40.5 by 27.5 cm
The actor Nakamura Kichiemon I (1886-1956) is in the role of Kumagai Naozane from the play Ichinotani Futaba Gunki (Chronicle of the Battle of Ichinotani), derived from the 12th century Heike Monogatari (The Tale of Heike). Kumagai is a general in Minamoto no Yoshitsune's army who must sacrifice his own son to maintain his and his lord's honor. Such sacrifices are relatively common in medieval kabuki tales, and usually result from obligations owed to one or another's family. In this story, Kumagai has captured the enemy warrior Taira no Atsumori, and is obligated to execute him. However, Kumagai once served under Atsumori's mother, the Lady Fuji no Kata, during which time the lady saved him from capital punishment after he fell in love with a courtesan. As a result of this personal history, Kumagai finds himself required to do the righteous thing and execute his own son in Atsumori's place. To recover from this traumatic episode, Kumagai retires from Yoshitsune's service and becomes a priest.
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, no. 42
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 53, cat. no. 79
Samuel L. Leiter, Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theater, 2014, pp. 179-180 (re: play)
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 14, 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...