The Mirror of Backstage in Full Bloom: Nakamura Shikan IV
(Hanazakari gakuya no sugatami: Nakamura Shikan)
signed Kunichika ga with artist's Toshidama seal, publisher's seal Bun, Tsujibun han, Yokoyamacho Sanchome (Tsujiokaya Bunsuke of Kinshodo), carver's seal Asakura Hori Man, censor's seal Ushi-roku, aratame (year of the Ox , 6th month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 9 5/8 in., 36.3 by 24.3 cm
The multi-talented Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-99) is seen in the reflection of an oblong mirror framed by red and gold lacquer draped with handling cloths. He wears a lightweight indigo and white cotton yukata and leans forward with a small sake cup in his hand with a large red uchiwa fan poking into view. The mirror rests propped up on an angle, in the foreground we see small containers of make-up, and an elaborate wig adorned with combs and hairpins in a coiffure suitable for the role of a high-ranking courtesan. Shikan IV was one of the rare kabuki actors that could play romantic leads, bombastic heroes, and elegant female roles, all with equal aplomb. In his day his skill was only matched to that of the similarly talented Bando Hikosaburo V (1832-77), with whom the two actors shared a simmering rivalry.
Nobutaka Imamura, ed., Ukiyo-e (Kunichika), Kyoto University of Art & Design, March 2018, p. 10, no. 16
Amy Reigle Newland, Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1999, p. 79, cat. no. 45 (for another print in this series)
Tokyo Metropolitan Library, acquisition no. 577-C013-02
Waseda University Theatre Museum, acquisition no. 007-264
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
August 14, 2022
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...