Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Nakamura Shikan IV as Shimobe Sarujiro, Bando Kamezo as Kojigoku Taro and Kawarazaki Gonjuro as Nagoya Yamanosuke, 1852. Oban diptych.
A fine diptych from Kunisada’s most productive year. The whole surface is alive with pattern, the charcoal background shimmers with mica, the collar of Gonjuro’s robe is embossed and Sarujiro’s kimono is burnished in black lacquered ink.
The central figure, patterned in ominous black clouds, looms like a fire out of the centre of the print whilst the other two characters lean in to occupy the space and at yet the same time are tensed in the opposing direction. The convex, sweeping lines of these outer figures seem to compress the figure of Taro and yet he forces himself out of the picture, his right arm pushing aside the right hand figure as the diminished figure of Sarujiro is squashed against the frame.
This is a fine bravura design with very fine colour and excellent early impression. The diptych is on Japanese album backing paper and is full size, very fine state.
A copy of this print is in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Signed Toyokuni ga in Toshidama cartouche. Published by Ebiya Rinnosuke, block cut by Hori Masa.
73.6 x 25.4 cm.