Hirosada, Kataoka Gado II as Chichibu Shoji Shigetada

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Kataoka Gado II as Chichibu Shoji Shigetada from the play Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki, 1852. Deluxe Chuban.

Click here for a full-size image.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

This Hirosada print is utterly breathtaking. Finely printed and jewel-like, the surface is richly embossed, gilded and dusted with mica and silver powder, the colours rich and over printed. The drawing and block cutting is peerless, the print is both a jewel of craftsmanship and a masterpiece of art and design.

The subject is of a twelfth century warlord Shigetada and set around the time of the sea battle at Dan-no-Ura - the culmination of a war that would decide who ruled Japan for the next seven hundred years. Two opposing factions, the Minamoto and the Taira (Heike) clans faced each other in fleets off the coast of Japan on April the 25th, 1185. In the play, Akoya is the courtesan lover of Kagekiyo who is on the run and in hiding. She is hauled before the court and threatened with torture to reveal the whereabouts of her lover. When she refuses, three instruments of torture are brought to the stage yet she still refuses. Next three musical instruments are brought on and the official, Shigetada, demands that she play them. She performs three songs about her love of Kagekiyo so beautifully that Shigetada is convinced that someone who sings so movingly could not also be a liar. The play ends with him confronting the evil torturer Munetsura.

Hirosada portrays the thoughtful Shigetada, toying with a fan, presumably listening to the music. Colour, impression, condition are all very fine. The print is unbacked and on thick paper with full margins. Repaired wormhole to top margin.

17.5 x 25 cm.