Re: Hiroshige actor print

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Posted by Theo de Kreijger on November 16, 2002 at 02:27:27:

In Reply to: Hiroshige actor print posted by Guy Pepermans on November 15, 2002 at 23:09:58:

Hi Guy!

Beautiful print you've got here :o)

I think that the seller called it a 'Shini-e' (actor memorial print or death print) because there is so much blue used in the print. Blue refers to death or gosts in Japanese prints, but in this case the actor is the monk D˘shin from the play about the Karukaya story, called "Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto". This monk carries a black and blue robe on all prints I know. And the blue background is indeed a fashionable Eisen-like landscape from about the 1830s.

The print shows the moment that Karukaya D˘shin meets Ishid˘-maru, a little boy, and doesn't know that it's his own son who was born after he had left his wife to become a monk.

The actors are indeed Sawamura Tossh˘ I and Iwai Shijaku I. Hiroshige was dead when Shijaku II got his stagename and Tossh˘ II appeared in 1854 which is too late for the Hiroshige signature that's on the print. This signature slowly evolved into the welknown elongated form after the 1830s. So you're right about dating it before 1832.

I don't think that the subject of this print is the commemoration of the official event of Sawagura becoming Tossh˘ I, because that was done in another play, called "Matsu o Chikara Tomoe no Fujinami". See kabuki at ifrance

I also don't think that it was a private printed print. My guess is that it was a left part of a dip- or triptych and that some dealer has cut of the kiwame seal when separating the different prints from each other or from a collectors book (like so often).

Here are two other diptychs and two obans showing the same play (just for the fun of it):

Diptych Kuniyoshi about 1850
Diptych Kunisada 1859
Oban Kunisada 1861
Oban Kunisada 1861

Hope this has helped ...


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