Tadakiyo & Kiyosada, Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Narukami, 1896

Jusoso Tadakiyo (1875-1941) & Torii Kiyosada (1844 -1901) Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Narukami in the Play Narukami, 1896. Oban.

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This fabulous and luxurious print by the father and son artists Jusoso Tadakiyo and Torii Kiyosada, demonstrates the peak of technical achievement in Japanese woodblock printing. The surface is richly embossed and crackles with mica and the rich burnishing of  the lacquered blacks. The print is from the series Kabuki Juhachiban, which commemorates the eighteen great kabuki dramas ‘claimed’ by the Danjuro clan since the early nineteenth century.

The print shows the great Danjuro IX in the play Narukami. Narukami is a wicked priest who lives by a waterfall in which he has magically imprisoned the dragon god. As a result, the rain has ceased and the land is in drought. The Emperor sends Princess Taema (pictured in the lower left by Kiyosada in the distinctive Torii school style) to break the curse. Pleading illness, she seduces Narukami and plies him with alcohol; he tells her that the dragon is imprisoned by the rope that hangs in front of the water. When he is drunk enough, Taema cuts the rope and the dragon escapes. When Narukami awakes he is in a terrible rage and he is transformed into the god of thunder. The actor poses at the finale amid lightning and thunder dressed in a costume decorated with red and orange flames.

The model for the portrait of Narukami is borrowed from a Kunisada print of 1851.

This is a fine print, lavishly produced with every embellishment of the woodblock printer's skill. It is in fine condition, printed on thick deluxe paper, full size and superb impression.

29cm x 40cm.