Kunisada, Kabuki Actors with Poems

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Nakamura Shikan IV from an Untitled Set of Actors with Poems, 1861. Oban.

Kunisada was one of the great woodblock print artists of nineteenth century Japan. He trained under Toyokuni I and was a contemporary of the great Kuniyoshi. Nakamura Shikan IV was a great Meiji actor who achieved enormous success all over Japan.

This is from a genre of prints called mitate. Mitate prints show actors in imagined roles rather than a specific play. In this print the artist has imagined Nakamura in the role of the samurai Mihotani Shiro Kunitoshi. The woodgrain effect cartouche contains a poem, the backgrounds in this series were drawn by the artist Gengyo Miyagi. There is delicate embossing to the background and beautifully delicate shading in the pink rays of the sky.

Condition and colour fine, untrimmed, impression very good.