Kunisada, Ichikawa Danjuro VII in Shibaraku!

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Ichikawa Danjuro VII in Shibaraku! 1850. Oban.

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A tremendous print from Kunisada detailing the performance of  Ichikawa Danjuro VII in Shibaraku! from around 1850. A great drawing of the extraordinary costume worn by kabuki actors when playing this role. The large red and white sansho motifs signify an actor from the Danjuro acting clan. They represent the graded wooden scoops used for measuring out rice.

The origins of the drama go back to Danjuro I in 1697 although there have been changes over the centuries. It is not a play as such but a scene which lasts about 50 minutes and is inserted during interludes. Evidently Shibaraku, which translates as “Wait a minute” or “Stop a moment,” was first dramatically shouted by Danjuro I when his fellow thespians forgot or refused his cue to enter and take to the hanamichi, “flower path” set at right angles to the stage. It became so popular that it was included in the kaomise, “face-showing” performances every year.

Kunisada shows the actor in one of the typical poses for this subject, the two rectangular wings of his costume, the rice scoops and the scabbard of his sword at rakish angle. Danjuro wears the kumadori make up of the role, used when playing in the aragoto style favoured by the Ichikawa clan. The complex script is more or less untranslatable to modern readers but will certainly detail the plot or history of the performance.

A great design, trimmed slightly to the sides. Colour and impression are very good, aside from the rough left-hand trim and slight thinning to the top left-hand corner, condition is excellent.

24 x 36 cm.