Hasegawa Munehiro (active. 1848 - 1867) Two Kabuki Actors in the Hollow of a Tree, ca 1860. Deluxe Chuban.
Click here for a detailed enlargement.
This print sparkles like a small icon, it is a gem of a piece and as far as I can tell, quite unique. Little is known of Munehiro; he was an Osaka artist, a pupil of Hasegawa Sadanobu (from whom he took his first name) and he produced a small number of single and multi-sheet theatre prints.
The print shows two actors hiding inside a hollow tree, one holding a scroll; but this description does not do the print justice. The inside of the trunk is encrusted with expensive gold metal powder, the details of the costume are tipped with silver, the blacks are richly burnished, the scroll and the white parts of the dress are embossed with patinated fabric. It is likely that this was commissioned in deluxe form by a group of enthusiasts - a fan club maybe. I have hardly seen such an enriched print before, even by Osaka standards. It is remarkable that this piece has survived, especially in such condition - Osaka print runs were notoriously small compared to Edo ones and deluxe printing of this lavishness even more scarce.
This is a fine print, superbly enriched and finely carved. Margined on two sides, fine colour and early impression. The condition is excellent - the print is album backed with a sheet of calligraphy - there are some small surface marks but overall very fine.