Baido, Onoe Kikuguro as Kouchiyama

Hosai Baido (1848 - 1920) Onoe Kikuguro as Kouchiyama in the play Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana (Kouchiyama) 1900. Oban Triptych.

A bold and adventurous piece of design from the last year of the century which saw woodblock printing evolve from modest cottage industry to the huge cultural machine of its peak in the 1860’s and its decline and extinction in that form in the final decade. This piece must be one of the last in the great kabuki ukiyo-e tradition, and its daring is a testament to the inventiveness of a medium looking for a new form. In the end, that form was to follow the western illustrative tradition and abandon these graphic masterpieces of the Japanese heritage.

Baido took a confusing array of names in his career. He is also known as Kunisada III and Toyokuni IV, later Toyokuni V and Kunimasa IV. Amy Riegle Newland comments: "Hosai died from illness, age 72, on 26 October 1920 at his home in Asakusa-tamachi.  Following his death, his role in the history of Meiji actor prints was largely forgotten and overshadowed by the accomplishments of the more prolific, and creative, figure of Kunichika.  But perhaps we should re-assess Hosai's role and accord him a position, if not the most innovative of designers, then at least as a final figure in the long line of Utagawa school actor image makers."

In the play Kouchiyama disguises himself as a priest in order to rescue a pawnbroker's daughter from the clutches of the evil Daimyo. Here Onoe Kikuguro (Baiko) plays the role of Kouchiyama, seen on the left in priest's robes.
This is a bold and sparse piece, dramatic and skillfully composed with burnishing to the roundel portrait. Good condition, full size and fine colour and impression.

76cm x 38cm.