Re: Hiroshige actor print

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Posted by David Moves On on November 16, 2002 at 02:41:51:

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

Hi Guy,

There are 2 things that I believe need to be corrected about the impression you were given about this print.

1) It is definitely not a shini-e, but rather a regular kabuki piece concerning a priest and an acolyte travelling through the mountains. Three pieces of evidence tell me this:
a. the text in the upper corner is an actor or narrator's speech, and has nothing to do with the death of the actor.
b. The actor's role (Sekidomaru) is given beside his name. There would be no role in a shini-e.
c. The piece lacks all the usual information given on shini-e, such as the death date, parting poem and afterlife name of the actor.

2) The other questionable element is the child actor's name. This does not seem to read Iwai Shijaku. I couldn't quite catch the last character due to the rubbing but my guess is that this is a child actor's name (thus a not much publicized name) of the Iwai family.

Actor prints by Hiroshige are rather unusual, so none of this should disappoint you too much (I hope). The blue background seems to fit the early 1830s date you suggested (a time when the new blue was the rage - I've even seen blue trees and grass in otherwise normally colored prints!)

: I recently obtained a Hiroshige print that was sold as an 'Shini-e' (actor memorial print or death print). After some research, I think that this is impossible.
: The print was edited by 'J˘shuya Kinz˘' (act. 1830-1852) without censor seal and depicts the actors Sawamura Tossh˘ I and Iwai Shijaku I (I think)who later adopted the name Iwai Hanshiro VII.
: Sawamura died in 1853 and Iwai in 1845.
: In my opinion, the print can be dated back to november 1831; at that time Sawamura Gennosuke II changed his name into S. Tossh˘ I at an annual ceremony.
: Hiroshige's signature is of a type used during the 1820's and before 1832 (according to R. Lane). The background is a Chinese style landscape in 'aizuri' following a fashion set by Keisai Eisen in 1830.
: So I think that the subject of this print is the commemoration of this official event - Sawagura becoming S. Tossh˘ I.
: I'am I right? Was it a private printed print? Can someone tell me also why Iwai is depicted as a child?
: Thanks for your comments.

: Guy.

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