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Utagawa Toyokuni, Japanese, (1769–1825)
The Actors Sawamura Tanosuke (left) and Matsumoto Koshiro (right), c. 1805
Ink on Paper
14 1/2 in. x 19 1/8 in. (368.3 mm x 485.78 mm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Edo (Japan, 1615-1868)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer
Accession Number: 93.3.139

Full Title: The Actors Sawamura Tanosuke (left) and Matsumoto Koshiro in Act IV of "The Treasury of Loyal Retainers"

"25" in pencil on verso, lower right. Title on mat (differs slightly) in pencil. Label with title on verso of mat. Signed: Toyokuni ga. Censor's seal: Kiwame.

Colored ink on paper; diptych (2 panels fused together). Woodblock print.

Object Description
Edo period Japanese color woodblock diptych with an image of actors in a play. This scene is thought to depict the Lady Kaoya when she is informed of her husband's death by the wicked court councilor for etiquette Moronao. Because women were banned by the government from appearing on the kabuki stage, men played the parts of women. Sawamura Tanosuke was famous for his female roles (onnagata), particularly those of elegant aristocratic ladies. Matsumoto Koshiro frequently played a villain in kabuki melodramas. The artist Toyokuni has presented the actors as if on stage, with props and backdrops. Prints like these were popular among theatergoers, sold as single sheets or in pairs.

"The actors Sawamura Tanosuke II (1788-1817) as the noble Lady Kaoya and Matsumoto Koshiro V (1764-1838), as the nefarious court counselor Moronao, are depicted when Moronao informs Lady Kaoya of her husband’s death. Her beauty, confidence and slightly sensual pose contrasts with Moronao’s befuddled expression and short stature enveloped by his robes. Toyokuni’s portrayal of Moronao is very different than that of other artists, such as Hiroshige, who depicted him as a handsome man."
(LD, student in 2010 seminar ARHI154 Japanese Prints)

Eikyudo (Yamamotoya Heikichi).

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