Turtle Fun: Wonderful, Wonderful,
Ink on Paper
14 3/16 in. x 9 7/8 in. (360.36 mm x 250.83 mm)
Gift of Mr. Fred Marer
Right part of a triptych.
Title on piece in pencil: "Actors portrayed as turtles." Artist's seal: Kiri. Signed: Ichiyosai Kuniyoshi. Censor's seal: double censor's seals (Mera and Murata).
Colored ink on paper; oban.
Right sheet of a triptych, depicting turtles with the faces of kabuki actors.
"Despite gradual relaxation of the ban on actor prints after 1846, it was still forbidden to name actors or show their crests, so the likenesses here are abetted by distinctive 'markings' on each turtle shell, which allude to the relevent actor's name either in the form of a stylized version of his stage crest or some other way. Thus, the 'senior' turtle in the bottom right corner is Nakamura Utaemon IV and the stylised plum blossom pattern on his shell refers to his family's acting crest."
(Timothy Clark, Kuniyoshi, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2009, pg. 281.)
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