Toyokuni I, Double Kabuki Portrait

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) Double portrait of the actors Nakayama Tomisaburo and Ichikawa Ichizo, c.1800. Oban.

In kabuki theatre women were banned from performing from 1629; hence female characters were invariably played by males or onnagata as they were known, and this continued as a tradition after the ban was lifted. In this print from the early 1800’s, two famous actors portray well known kabuki roles, one as a woman. It is highly likely that this print represents a tour of Nagoya undertaken by the two actors in 1808.

It is a fine impression, the condition is good with some rubbing to the lower portion. The sheet is untrimmed and the colour outstanding given its age. A very fine Toyokuni double portrait.