Kunichika, An Actor in the role of Danshichi

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) An actor in the role of Danshichi from an Unknown Series, 1870’s. Oban.

A very fine actor portrait from a series I am not familiar with. In this very bright and vivid print, Kunichika shows the popular kabuki role of the fishmonger Danshichi. The play upon which it is based, Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami, is in the popular nineteenth century genre of Sewamono (plays on the lives of ordinary people). The fishmonger Danshichi is the archetype of the Osaka otokodate. The role was based on a real man, a fishmonger in the city of Sakai, who killed somebody in the middle of winter in 1697. The dead body was hidden in the snow and discovered in Spring, after the melting of the snow. There are several versions of the play which was particularly popular in Osaka

The scene of Danshichi washing himself from the well having been tricked out of his clothes was a favourite among ukiyo-e artists. Kunichika pictures Danshichi in a mirror wrapped in patterned cloths (a favourite device in ukiyo-e), the background has morning glory flowers whilst the portrait of the actor is in the conventional pose of the character with bucket and tattooed sleeve.

A very nice print, colour and impression are fine. Condition is excellent except for some trimming trimming to the top edge.

35cm x 24cm.