The actors Mimasuya Sukejûrô as Hyôbanshi Hyôsuke and Matsushima Hyôtarô as Shima no Chitose
Kiyomasu II, Torii; designer; Japanese printmaker, 1706-63
Print from woodblock in black, with hand-colouring, metallic dust and 'lacquer' (urushi-e). Hosoban, 323 x 149. Signed: Torii Kiyomasu hitsu. Publisher: Sakai-chô Nakajimaya hammoto (Nakajimaya). 1724.
height, 323, mm
width, 149, mm
bought; 1955; Sotheby's
22 March 1955, lot 4
This print shows a scene from the play Bankoku Taiheiki (A Taiheiki of many lands) performed at the Ichimura Theatre in Edo in the eleventh month of 1724. The original Taiheiki (Record of the great peace) was a famous fourteenth-century military chronicle. The performance depicted here marked the debut on the Edo stage of the actor Matsushima Hyôtarô, who is seen playing the female lead. He had only just arrived in the city and returned to his native Kamigata region (Kyoto-Osaka) after only one year. The other actor, Mimasuya Sukejûro I (1669-1725), died in the third month of 1725. Kabuki nempyô (a chronological history of kabuki compiled from contemporary sources) records that when Hyôtarô first walked on stage and formally greeted the audience as a newcomer, Sukejûrô suddenly stood up in the audience disguised in a deep sedge hat (tengai) and made a long elaborate speech. In the following scenes, Hyôtarô played the character of a courtesan processing to an assignation teahouse, then assumed the false guise of a lady-in-waiting who was terrified when she came upon Hyôsuke. It is not clear in the print precisely which scene is depicted, although Hyôtarô looks as though he is playing a courtesan. The characters are shown in front of a painted screen in a room with a verandah; there is a basin for washing hands on the verandah. The years from 1720-40 saw increasingly elaborate hand-colouring. In this case the red pigment has been mixed with glue (nikawa) to produce a glossy effect. The print was backed in the 19th century with a page from Ansei kenmonroku, an account of the Ansei earthquake of 1855, which has recently been removed to reveal an ink drawing of two heads on the back of the print.
Bought from the Duplicate Objects Fund
signature; printed; Torii Kiyomasu hitsu
publisher's mark; printed; Sakai-chô Nakajimaya hammoto; Nakajimaya
Hartley, Craig. 1997. Prints of the Floating World: Japanese Woodcuts from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.London?: Lund Humphriesp. 28, #3
Object Number: P.11-1955
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 11144; input: 2000-08-22; modified: 2008-09-17)