Kuniteru II, Bando Kakitsu and Bando Hikosaburo

Ichiyusai Kuniteru II (1829 - 1874) Bando Kakitsu and Bando Hikosaburo in A Kabuki Play, 1865. Oban Diptych.

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This diptych by Kuniteru II is simply delightful. It shows two of the great kabuki stars of the time performing at the Ichimura theatre in Edo in 1865. The title of the play is lost, but the composition of this fine print is compelling.

Bando Hikosaburo V was an outstanding actor, able to play any number of roles. His forte were the great traditional roles originally designed for the puppet theatre (bunraku). He was really the premiere  star of the first half of the Meiji era, had a strong artistic influence on Onoe Kikugoro V, the future star of the second half of the Meiji era. He unfortunately died too early, at the age of 45. His rivalry with Nakamura Shikan IV was one of the hottest in kabuki history: "So nearly matched in ability were Shikan and Hikosaburô, with but two years' difference in their ages, that they were pitted against each other, and their patrons often indulged in fights over them." By contrast, Bando Kakitsu I was a Meiji actor specialising in male roles, who excelled in gentler acting styles, taking roles that suited his mild approach. He was also the last impresario of the Ichimura theatre.

A fine print, very much in the spirit and style of Kunichika and of their mutual teacher Kunisada. Kuniteru II was to modify, and effectively modernise his style as the Meiji era took shape, his later works becoming wholly westernised. Kuniteru is one of those artists whose feet were in the Edo and whose later style was quite definitely in the new and western influenced, modern world.

Colour, condition and impression are all fine.

51 x 37 cm.