Kunisada, Portraits from Hit Plays of Both Historical Stories and Modern Life - Nakamura Fukusuke I as Kosho Sutewakamaru

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Portraits from Hit Plays of Both Historical Stories and Modern Life (Jidai sewa atari sugatami): Nakamura Fukusuke I as Kosho Sutewakamaru, 1859. Oban.

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Kunisada made some of his finest work in the last few years of his life. These late, great series, show supreme confidence in the medium which had become in his lifetime the most popular art form in the then largest city in the world. They bristle with technical achievement and brilliant displays of daring composition and drawing. The publishers, liberated from many of the censorship restrictions of the 1840’s and sensing a new spirit of economic optimism and change, spared nothing in the value and costs of some of these, still exotic, print series.

This series and similar series such as Toyokuni Manga zue from the same year, use the same device of having popular actors performing roles in elaborate costumes, many of which were imagined performances that had never taken place. In this case, the actor Nakamura Fukusuke I plays Kosho Sutewakamaru from the play Keisei Chikugo-ga-Fuchi. He grasps a stave and a bamboo fence in dramatic pose.

The print is richly cut and decorated, beautifully produced, with mica sprinkled in the upper portion of night sky. Colour and impression are fine, condition too is fine, there is some slight offsetting to the figure.

There is a copy of the print in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Published by Uoya Eikich.

36.5 x 25.5 cm.