Toyokuni I, Portrait of Bando Mitsugoro III as Dozaemon Denkichi

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) Portrait of The Kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro III as Dozaemon Denkichi, 1813. Oban.

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This is a very striking portrait of the famous kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro. Toyokuni was the founder of the influential Utagawa school and the artist who made the actor print the phenomenon it would become in the nineteenth century. This print takes full advantage of deluxe techniques using burnishing, lacquer and embossing. It is a fine example of late eighteenth, early nineteenth century printing and is very characteristic of Toyokuni’s drawing style. It also sits on the tipping point between the two centuries… what we are calling in this selection the 'Dekiyo-e' of the nineteenth century as opposed to the 'Ukiyo-e' of the preceding one.

Here we see Toyokuni I looking at the realism of Sharaku; the near caricature of the portrait is reminiscent of later works by him, as is the pose. Toyokuni shows the harshness of the theatre and the actor acting… this is a man on stage and not a character from the imagination. There is a real richness to this print both in the superbly preserved colour and in the patterns - the diagonal check here signifying the actor clan of Mitsugoro. The play Fujibumi sono na mo gozonji by Segawa Joko II was performed at the Nakamura-za in the 5th month of 1813 and concerns the honour between the thieves of Edo, another demotic, popular theme for this new century. The character of Denkichi was revived in several plays of the 1860’s.

The colour unusually good for the age, and the condition overall is good.

Published by Yamaguchiya Tobei.

38 x 25 cm.