Kunisada, Ichikawa Ebizo V as Soga Goro

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Ichikawa Ebizo V as Soga Goro, 1832. Oban.

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This is a very good print… a fine example of an artist showing the aragato style of acting that the Ichikawa clan were so adept at. Aragoto, or 'rough style', is a style of kabuki acting that uses exaggerated, dynamic kata and speech. Aragoto actors typically wear bold red or blue makeup, and have costumes that are padded and enlarged. The term aragoto is an abbreviation of the term aramushagoto, which literally means 'wild-warrior style' - exemplified by this dynamic pose and contorted line.

The print is not recorded officially which adds to its rarity; it shows the truly great actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII in the year (1832) that he changed his name to Ichikawa Ebizo V. It follows his dynamic and aggressive co-opting of the kabuki canon into the eighteeen plays of the Danjuro clan, the so called Kabuki Juhachiban. This performance is that of Soga Goro in the short, bombastic play Ya-no-Ne, a scene where he acts the part of Soga Goro awaking from a dream. Goro is one of two famous hero brothers set on avenging their father’s death. The stylised scene is set in Goro’s rooms, surrounded by gigantic weapons. He is given a magical scroll for his birthday and dreams of his brother being held prisoner. He leaps from the dream to go to his brother’s aid and chances upon a seller of radishes. He takes the poor man’s horse and picks up a gigantic radish as well, with which he exits the stage using the vegetable as a riding crop.

The print is brilliantly dynamic, the drawing is outstanding and the colour and impression are fine… the colour is particularly striking. Condition is excellent, the print is full size and unbacked.

Signed: Gotoei Kunisada ga.

Published by Kinkodo (Yamaguchiya Tobei).

26 x 38 cm.