Kunichika, Ichikawa Sadanji as Mikuriya Kisanta

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Ichikawa Sadanji as Mikuriya Kisanta, 1871. Oban.

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This terrific action portrait is of the kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji  playing the role of the yakko Mikuriya Kisanta from the play drama, Kiichi Hogen Sanryaku no Maki. The play is set in the warring states period of Japan and centres around the concealment of a vital book of military strategy. Kisanta is a minor albeit important role in the play. The print is presumably from the last act where he is seen to wipe the blood from his master’s sword with a dramatic mei.

The print is a great character study, the crossed arms and taut body are all part of the dramatic arragato style of acting that was popular in the late Edo period. Sadanji wears a very fine kimono lavishly decorated with a stylised alligator symbolic of his character’s fighting ability. I especially like the way-side sign post that acts as a title cartouche with plum blossoms.

A fine Kunichika print. Full size, colour, condition and impression are all fine.

24 x 36 cm.