Hirosada, Kataoka Gado II as Tamiya Gempachi

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Kataoka Gado II as Tamiya Gempachi in Osanaga no aduchi (The Child's Revenge) 1849. Deluxe Chuban.

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What a complex and compelling design this print is. The image hinges on the phenomenal and complicated arrangement of the hands in the centre of the sheet. The spiral of action that springs from this arrangement - the stave pointing to the lower right, the right arm, the left arm, the head and hunched shoulders - lends the whole piece a sense of coiled action and yet retains the wrapt concentration of the character.

The Child’s Revenge is a popular kabuki play and a fine story. After his father Tamiya Genpachiro was killed in 1624 by a rival swordsman, the young Tamiya Botaro was brought up in Shido Temple where he was advised by his uncle to behave as if deaf and dumb in order to throw off his enemies. His nurse Otsuji believed he was really mute and prayed with ritual ablutions to the god Konpira in order that he may regain his speech and become skilled at arms in order to avenge his father's killer. In the play, Otsuji went on to commit suicide as an act of sacrifice, dying in the knowledge that Botaro can speak and that his martial skills will enable him to achieve his revenge, even while still a child. Yoshitoshi made the definitive version of the story, so influential at the time that the kabuki stage was altered in order to accomodate his vision of the scene.

Hirosada pictures Tamiya, a tragic and heroic figure facing death. The print is superb and on thick, hosho paper. The detail is picked out in varnish and burnishing and the colour, condition and impression are all fine.

18cm x 25cm.