Toyokuni I, Iwai Hanshiro V as Osome

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) Iwai Hanshiro V (1776 - 1847) as Osome from Osome Hisamatsu no Yomiuri, c.1813. Oban.

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A companion to the previous piece, this fine actor portrait shows an actor in the role of Osome from the drama Osome Hisamatsu no Yomiuri. Osome is the daughter of a wealthy pawnbroker. She secretly and against the wishes of her family, loves the apprentice Hisamatsu. There follows a long and complex love story and intrigue ending in the near but failed double suicide of the two lovers. Suicide plays such as this were very popular in Edo and were responsible for a remarkable number of copycat tragedies, so much so that the genre was circumscribed for periods when it was considered that kabuki exerted too strong an influence on audiences.

The actor Hanshiro played all seven roles in the performance of the play (sometimes called 'the seven roles of Osome') in 1813 at the Moritaza, which this print comemorates.

Toyokuni’s importance and influence cannot be underestimated. He was a fine artist and experimented widely and successfully in landscape and western perspective and as the two musha-e prints in the show demonstrate, his influence reached far beyond the actor portraits for which he is best known.

Prints like this were to overshadow the career of his most prolific student Utagawa Kunisada who eventually took the name Toyokuni III. This piece has all of the great delicacy of classical ukiyo-e, the colouring and paper are archaic in feel and quite different from the more polished and technically advanced prints of the mid century.

The impression and condition are fine, with very good colour, full size with deep embossing to the robes.

26cm x 38cm.