Early Hokusai

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Posted by Arnold on August 11, 2003 at 18:27:16:

I'd appreciate help in dating an early Hokusai.

This hosaban print is signed Shunro and the seller estimated its printing date as 1784. It pictures two female impersonators, Iwai Hanshiro IV and Segawa Kikunojo III. Iwai is sitting while Kiunojo stands above her. A gate with an ornamental crane carved into its top towers over both.

Both actors were famous impersonators and they may not have acted together often. I checked 'Actor's Image" for prints showing both actors but only found one amongst more than 50 listed for Kikunojo III. This diptypch is #497 in the "Actor's Image" catalog. It shows Segawa Kiunojo III as Yasukata and Iwai Hanshiro IV as Utou. The hairstyles in these prints are identical to those in the Shunro print so I wonder if the Shunro print is for the same play "Godai Genji Mitsugi no Firosode played at the Nakamura in 11/1782. Since Iwai and Segawa were most likely competitors and may have rarely acted together, I'm wondering if the date for the Shunro print might be narrowed down to this preformance. Is there a reference source that could shed light on this possibility?

Thanks so much for your attention.

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