Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Ichimura Uzaemon XIII as Tekomae Kakitsu from the series Yoi matsuri sugato, 1862/63. Oban.
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This very fine actor portrait completed two years before the artist’s death, is typical of the mature style of Kunisada and the final refinement of the late Edo portrait style. The crushing censorship of the Shogunate was long gone and yet the creative renaissance that it ignited remains in this powerful half length portrait of the actor Ichimura Uzaemon. (Uzaemon changed his name to Ichimura Kakitsu IV in 1863).
The print comes from a short series titled Contemporary Figures on the Eve of a Festival. Each print portrays a well known actor of the day in a role for which he was famous. The habit of ‘disguising’ actor’s identities with obscure subtitles harks back to the censorship of the 1840’s. The picture has all the traits of the great actor portrait: Uzaemon stands alone in half length, his family crest decorates his outer kimono and his arms are covered with lavish tattoos. His right arm has a tattoo of a dragon clutching the Hindu (Buddhist) pearl of purity and wisdom in its claw. The tail of the dragon is just visible beneath the sleeve on the other arm. He is wearing a decorative bonnet in honour of the forthcoming festival and he adopts the heroic pose of the noble tough… the Ronin or leaderless samurai.
As with so many of Kunisada’s late theatre portraits, the drawing is sensitive and robust, the detail and the quality of the printing outstanding. This is a very good early impression in excellent condition, there is mica applied to the upper portion of the background. Strong impression and unfaded colour.
Published by Kagaya Kichibei.
24 x 35.5 cm.