Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Mirror of Pictures of Modern Actors: Portrait of the Actor Nakamura Sojuro, 1881. Oban.
We have a beautiful pair of actor portraits in the exhibition which I am hitherto unfamiliar with. Bearing a similarity with the two Toyokuni I prints above, the prints show actor portraits in role, reflected in a decorative mirror. This framing device is clever, allowing the artist to position the actor in a frame within a frame. The composition suggests another genre; that of the backstage dressing room and evokes the actor preparing to take to the stage, checking his reflection… the grimace- the mie, his makeup and so on. The design suggests an intimacy that would not have been lost on the avid kabuki audiences.
The colour on the print is outstanding… the red of the frame, the orange of the background, the blue of the robe, the colours all of them ‘knocked back’ have a beautiful and nicely judged harmony. The print is in very good condition and is a fine impression with embossing to the collar and topknot.
36cm x 25cm.