Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Komon Mitsukuni-kyo from the series One Hundred Roles of Ichikawa Danjuro, 1895. Oban.
Kunichika is the great genius of the late Meiji theatre portrait. It’s impossible to separate his name from that of the great kabuki actors of the day, especially that of Ichikawa Danjuro IX. Danjuro and Kunichika did not get on well; nevertheless they each saw in the other the importance to the theatre of their continuing collaboration. In 1893 Kunichika was commissioned to carry out a series celebrating one hundred of the great roles of the greatest actor in kabuki, Danjuro IX. The series was to take a decade to complete. Amy Reigle Newland in her book Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master describes this and the other series devoted to the actor Kikugoro IV as ‘Monuments to Kunichika’s career’. The prints are lavish in every way, dusted with mica backgrounds, embossed, shaded and printed on the highest quality paper... these were designed to be outstanding, deluxe editions.
This fabulous design shows Danjurio IX in the role of the Komon Mitsukuni, a prominent daimyo (lord) of the seventeenth century. He was responsible for assembling the first thorough history of Japan, but more famous for the many and popular fictionalised accounts that appeared in the Edo period, portraying him as an adventurer and fighter of evils and demons. This tradition continues in the TV series Mito Komon one of the longest running series on Japanese television.
Kunichika pictures Danjuro in a kabuki wig of startling orange and daimyo’s cap. This is a fine and powerful design and a rare print. As usual with this series the print is rich in mica and deep embossing and printed on high quality paper - a deluxe print.
The piece is untrimmed with over wide margins and in superb condition except for an offset mark upper right. Fine colour with wonderful embossing to the wig. Very good impression, over all very fine.
Signed Kunichika hitsu. Toshidama seal. Published by Fukuda Kumajiro.