Kunisada, Sumiyoshi Dancers

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Bando Mitsugoro as Yattoko Seiji and Bando Sanpachi as Yonya Naokichi as Sumiyoshi Dancers, ca. 1820. Oban.

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From one of our very first exhibitions in November 2010, Actors of the Kabuki Stage, the print shows two actors performing a well known dance sequence called a Sumiyoshi. These were lively folk dances popularised by buddhist priests and travelling bonzes as a means of propagating their religion. This expression comes from the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka, where such dances originated.

A very early print from Kunisada, of Bando Mitsugoro and Bando Sanpachi. This scene, from an unidentified kabuki play, shows Mitsugoro standing in front of cherry blossom. He holds a parasol whilst a child performs a dance around him with a battledore. There is very beautiful oxidation of the orange pigment on the parasol and the drawing of the child is especially delicate. It is interesting to observe Kunisada’s debt to his teacher Toyokuni I in the drawing style of the figure and particularly in the face.

The colour and oxidation are exceptional as is the drawing. A good impression; there is some wear to the edges. There is very deep embossing to the collar and this is also picked out in silver, metallic pigment.