Kunishige, Actors with Hobby Horse in Early Spring Life

Kunishige (active 1847 - 1855) Arashi Rikan, Nakamura Tama and Nakamura Daikichi in Early Spring Life, c.1854. Chuban.

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Everything about this lovely but obscure print is an enigma. Confusion surrounds the artist, Kunishige, sometimes known as Utagawa Kunishige - presumably because of the stylised toshidama cartouche that his prints often have. The better known Shigeharu - Ryûsai Shigeharu (1803–1853) - is sometimes associated with this later manifestation.

The print shows actors Arashi Rikan, Nakamura Tama and Nakamura Daikichi in a dance drama… possibly Harukoma, but there is no information available on either the artist or the performance. One other copy of the print exists, in the collection of the Waseda Theatre Museum but sadly they to have little in the way of detail. It is a lovely object of great gentleness, note the drum and child’s toy horse.

20 x 26 cm.