Kunichika, Ichikawa Sadanji as Sano Jirozaemon from the Kabuki Play Kagotsurube

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Ichikawa Sadanji as Sano Jirozaemon from the Kabuki Play Kagotsurube, 1880’s. Oban Triptych.

A stunningly dramatic triptych from Kunichika showing the kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji as Sano Jirozaemon from the play Kagotsurube. Kunichika uses the dramatic rooftop perspective to stage the final scene where Jirozaemon fends of his attackers in desperation prior to being apprehended. Set against a night sky his body is contorted as he flails at his pursuers with a sword. Beneath him are the paraphernalia of pursuit - lanterns, sticks, farming implements and grappling irons.

The crime itself - loosely based on a true story - describes a farmer, Sano Jirozaemon who is disfigured with smallpox.  He is bequeathed a magic sword that will bring him good luck as long as it remains sheathed. As a result he prospers and becomes a successful businessman, falling in love with a prostitute, Yatsuhashi, who returns his affections but leaves him for a former lover. Enraged, he pursues and kills her; he is in turn pursued by the authorities but manages to also kill his rival before surrendering. Another, far bloodier print by Kuniyoshi of Jirozaemon shows the aftermath of his attack on his former lover.

The print is in fair condition with some surface wear towards the bottom, colour and impression are very good.

35cm x 72cm.