JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

TOYOKAWA YOSHIKUNI

豊川よし国

(The Yoshikuni part was corrected on 12/17/12.)

とよかわ.よしくに

fl. 1803-40?

Actor: Nakamura Shikan II

中村芝翫

なかむら.しガン

Role: Nursemaid

Komori

子守

こもり

Play: Rangiku Tsuyu no Adamakura

乱菊露仂枕

らんぎく.つゆのあだまくら

Theater:

Kado (in Osaka)

かど

Size: 15 1/8" x 10"

Date: 1827, 10th Month

Bunsei 10

文政10

Signature: Toyokawa Yoshikuni ga

Publisher: Honsei

夲清

ほんせい

This is one of five panels.

Each shows Shikan II in a different role.

Illustrated:
1. Another copy of this print is shown on line at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts web site.

It is from the William Sturgis Bigelow Collection - accession number 11.36241a-e

2. Ikeda bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei, 1997, vol. 1, #399

 

ORIGINALLY

$210.00

NOW

$147.00

SOLD!

 

 

 

FUJIMA KAMESABURŌ

AKA

NAKAMURA FUJITARŌ

AKA

NAKAMURA TSURUTSUKE

AKA

NAKAMURA SHIKAN II

AKA

NAKAMURA UTAEMON IV

 

 

1796? to 1852

It is not uncommon for an actor to be known by various names throughout his career. In fact, it is the standard. Whether through adoption or advancement names are changed often - especially in the case of those who are particularly adept at their craft. Such is the case of Shikan II who is actually better known as Utaemon IV.

 

The son of the owner of a teahouse he started his career as a student of an uncle who was a dance master who adopted him in 1807. He worked as a choreographer or furitsuke (振り付け or ふりつけ) until his move to Edo in 1811 when he entered the household of Utaemon III. At that time he took the name Nakamua Fujitarō. In Osaka in 1813 he changed it to Nakamura Tsurusuke. "In 1825 he became Shikan II while playing in Kyoto." By 1827 he was so successful that the government placed him under house arrest in Edo because of his lavish lifestyle. (This was not an isolated incident. Several other prominent actors and artists suffered the same fate at various times in their careers.)

 

In 1836 Shikan II was adopted by Utaemon III who changed his own name to Tamasuke. That allowed Shikan to become Utaemon IV. Although he was a large and imposing figure his abilities allowed him to play even female roles with aplomb. "Such versatility earned him the title kaneru yakushu...[兼ねる役者 or かねる.やくしゃ - an 'all-around actor' or 'a man of a thousand faces'.]

 

Source and quotes from: New Kabuki Encyclopedia, Samuel Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1997.

 

 

 

 

NAKAMURA SHIKAN II

Must Have Been One Heck of a Versatile Actor

 

Below are four of five oban prints which includes the image featured on this page. Each print represents Shikan II as a different character within this play. Peter Sellers performed a similar theatrical feat in Dr. Strangelove.

 

None of the other examples shown here are for sale. We have posted them in order that you might get a more complete idea of the role of the nursemaid print within the set.

 

 

THE JAPANESE PINWHEEL

KAZAGURUMA

風車

かざぐるま

 

As a child I was fascinated by pinwheels. Don't know any that weren't. Some people never grow out of it. Even today I see them everywhere.

When I ride my bike around Port Townsend it would be difficult to count the number of yards with them. And those are the only ones I can see. They're ubiquitous.

 

 

 

Yoshikuni was as famous as a poet as he was an artist.  According to Roger Keyes he "...was active as a print designer between 1813 and 1830... He may have been the son of Hakuensai Baikō, the late eighteenth century Osaka poet who was the proprietor of the publishing firm Shioya Saburobei. Yoshikuni may have begun his career in 1800 with a poetry anthology, and could have designed two or three prints that appeared with the signature Jukō in 1813.  Although his career as a print designer ended around 1832, he seems to have continued his activity as a poet, leading the Jukōsha poetry group whose members designed actor prints."

 

Quoted from: The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints, by Roger Keyes and Keiko Mizushima, published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973, p. 252.

 

In a section called 'The Rise of New Artists' Dean Schwaab noted that shortly after 1810 several significant artist all appeared on the scene in Osaka at about the same time. Yoshikuni (i.e., Jukō/Ashimaro) was among them. Jukōdō Yoshikuni published one print under the name Jukō in 1813. "He then moved to the Ashikuni school under the name Ashimaro. Only two compositions under this name are recorded..." Then he changed his name to Yoshikuni. In mid-1817 he collaborated on prints with Ashiyuki and Ashihisa. Later he worked with several other artists including Shibakuni, Ashiyuki, Kunihiro, Tamikuni, Hikokuni and Hokushū. From 1820 to 1832 he produced approximately 120 compositions. 61 of these represented Utaemon III.

 

Source and quotes from: Osaka Prints, by Dean J. Schwaab, published by Rizzoli, 1989, pp. 22 & 25-27.

 

 

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