Kunisada, Ichikawa Ebizo and Iwai Kumesaburo

Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) Ichikawa Ebizo and Iwai Kumesaburo, 1847 - 1850. Oban.

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This is a terrific, characterful double actor portrait by Kunisada of the kabuki performers Ichikawa Ebizo playing Uji Tsuneyoshi and Iwai Kumesaburo playing Shinobu from the play Iwao no Hananami no Shiraishi.

I am slightly confused by the character played by Ichikawa Ebizo; the play and the character, Shinobu derive from a revenge drama written for the puppet theatre and transferred to the kabuki stage. Shinobu witnesses her peasant father being cut down by a Ronin over a petty argument. Her mother subsequently dies of grief and she travels to Edo to find her sister; the girls are reunited in the red light district and vow to avenge their family using a book about the Soga Brothers as their inspiration.

This is a timely reminder perhaps about the very powerful roles that women often played in the dramas of the time even if this was not always reflected in real life.

It is a beautifully expressed print, finely drawn with an especially good series of dragons on the robes of Ichikawa Ebizo. There are some professionally repaired wormholes; colour and impression are fine; condition very good.

35 x 24 cm.