Sadamasu, Kataoka Ichizo I as Tetsugadake Dazaemon

Gochtei Sadamasu I (Kunimasu) (active 1834 - 1854) Actor Kataoka Ichizo I as Tetsugadake Dazaemon, c1839. Deluxe Chuban.

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A very exciting Sadamasu. The colour… including the oxidised bronzes... has the sensuality and the lush balance of a really great colourist. The drawing of Dazaemon and the development of the shading with its unusual tones is peerless. The print is not in the best condition but the impression is very good and the colour as before is very deft.

Not too much is known about Sadamasu, but it is widely considered that he was a wealthy man - possibly a merchant or shipbuilder - who was capable of funding his art career by other means. He was the teacher of the great Hirosada and a pupil of Kunisada in Edo, changing his name when Kunisada changed his own name to Toyokuni III. This print is important because it is from a small group of close-up portraits of actors in the chuban format. It is likely Sadamasu paid for this publication himself and they were printed in small editions with expensive technical refinements.  Compared to prints published in Osaka at the time, they were coloured with a new intensity. As a consequence of these prints, Hirosada began to design prints in the same style and format for performances in the spring of 1841.

His work is outstanding; often - as in this case - exquisitely deluxe, richly embellished and delicately drawn. The Osaka print is another wrestler story, like the Hirosada print of  Kinugawa Tanizo. In this play, Sekitori Senryo Nobori, two rival wrestlers, one of whom is Tetsugadake Dazaemon, here played by the kabuki actor Kataoka Ichizo I, agree to throw a bout in order to gamble on the win and buy the mistress of the other, Inagawa Jirokichi, out of a deal which would see her sold to another customer. Inagawa must find the large sum of 200 ryo by the end of the day.

In the ring, just as it seems that Dazaemon is going to win Inagawa hears an announcement that a patron has offered a gift of 200 ryô to him. Now free from his worry about his mistress' ransom, Inagawa becomes suddenly vigorous and defeats Tetsugatake. Of course this being kabuki, it turns out that his loyal wife, hearing of the shameful cheating has sold herself to a teahouse in order to protect the honour of her husband.

A very fine portrait by a rare artist. The impression and colour are fine, with a nice use of oxidised metallics. Trimmed to the image and at the top edge.  Some scuffing and slight surface wear,  nevertheless an important and vital piece. Unbacked.

24.5 x 18 cm.