Katsukawa Shun'ei


Sumo Wrestler Itadaki (Kashiwado) Rinsuke

signed Shun'ei ga with censor's kiwame seal and publisher's tomo-e mark and seal Eijuhan (Nishimuraya Yohachi of Eijudo), ca. 1808-1812

oban tate-e 15 1/8 by 10 1/4 in., 38.5 by 26 cm

Itadaki Rinsuke (1783-1828) was a sumo wrestler from Goshogawara in Aomori near the northern-most tip of the main island of Honshu. He joined the Isenoumi-beya (stable of wrestlers) in Edo in 1806 and reached the top rank of ozeki which he held from 1815 until 1824. He used the name Itadaki from the 11th lunar month of 1808 until the 11th lunar month of 1812 when he changed it to Kashiwado. In a later version of this portrait issued after the name change in the collection of the Sumo Museum in Japan the coloration on the keshomawashi (ceremonial skirt) was simplified to a black and white chevron pattern and he is identified as Kashiwado.

Katsukawa Shunsho (17926-1792), the teacher of Shun'ei, added the genre of sumo wrestling subjects to his repertoire in circa 1782. The artist may have been inspired by a sensational match in the second lunar month of 1782 in which a young upstart from Osaka, Onogawa Kisaburo, soundly defeated the reigning Edo champion, Tanikaze Kujinosuke, who had been the undisputed titleholder with a record of sixty-three straight wins. The upset match helped fan the smoldering flames of sumo in Edo, where it had been growing in popularity, ultimately replacing Osaka as the center of the sport. The full-length portraits of the wrestlers made good use of the larger oban-sized sheets which had been recently introduced into the woodblock printing industry, their forms filling the sheet from edge to edge in order to emphasize their massive size. As is the case with this print, white lead (now oxidized) was frequently utilized in order to vary the skin tones and define the curves of their girth and muscles.

A different portrait by Shun'ei of the wrestler Takaneyama Sokichi in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art may have been issued as a companion to this print.

Timothy T. Clark and Osamu Ueda, The Actor's Image: Print Makers of the Katsukawa School, pp. 278-283 (on Katsukawa sumo prints)
Honolulu Museum of Art, Shun'ei portrait of Takaneyama Sokichi, Michener Collection, (19696)

(inv. no. C-3293)

price: $5,500


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