Kunikazu, Actors in Oguri Monogatari

Utagawa Kunikazu (active 1849 - 1867) Actors Nakamura Kanjaku II as Hosokawa Masafusa (R), Nakamura Tamashichi I as Oguri Sukeshige (C), and Kataoka Gadô II as Kazama Hachirô (L), in Oguri Monogatari, 1848. Deluxe Chuban triptych.

This quite superb design by Kunikazu of the popular kabuki play Oguri Monogatari shows Osaka printmaking at its best. The compelling design of the three figures, the crashing waves and the moonlit landscape are outstanding. There is a tautness in the drawing here and a much freer acknowledgement of the artifice of the stage than is seen in the Edo printmakers equivalents. Kunikazu makes a much bolder visual statement with his drawing of the waves, which he describes in an unashamedly theatrical way. The three figures, as usual with Kunikazu, are deftly and tightly drawn and realised.

The play is one of a whole cycle of dramas and stories about Oguri, a prince and warrior and accomplished horseman. His story involves the usual staples of medieval drama - family feuds, heroic battles - of which this is one, unrequited love, sorcery and exile.

A fine deluxe chuban triptych, good condition, fine colour.

A copy of this print is in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

54cm x 25cm.