Saigo and His Lieutenants, 1877
Ink on Paper
13 5/8 in. x 28 5/16 in. (34.61 cm x 71.91 cm)
Very good impression; embossed. Excellent colors with burnishing.
Signed Toyohara Kunichika hitsu. Artist's seal.
Colored ink woodblock print; three oban tate-e (triptych).
Meiji period color woodblock print depicting kabuki actors in the roles of the characters of the Satsuma Rebellion. The actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1839-1903) occupies the center of the composition, and his role is labeled as "Sanjo Takamori," not "Saigo Takamori," the leader of the Satsuma Rebellion. The names of the Kagoshima rebels were changed slightly for both stage and prints in 1877 to conveniently skirt government censorship laws and restrictions on public commentary about contemporary issues.
"Toyohara Kunichika’s brightly colored triptych depicts Kabuki actors as soldiers in the Satsuma Rebellion, an actual uprising in western Japan in 1877. Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX is portrayed in the center of the composition as Sanjo Takamori (not Saigo Takamori 1827-1877), the name of his role changed slightly due to government censorship laws. As one of the first Kabuki plays to incorporate Western dress, the print reflects the practice of using current events as plot lines."
(DR, student in 2010 seminar ARHI154 Japanese Prints)
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