Hirosada, Nakamura Utaemon IV in Natsu Matsuri

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Nakamura Utaemon IV in Natsu Matsuri, 1850. Chuban Triptych.

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It is customary to identify this print as Nakamura Utaemon IV playing Otsuya Matahei and Nakamura Tomosa II playing the Head Clerk (Banto) Monbei in Act 6 of Inazuma Soshi. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston does so for example.  In fact the print illustrates Utaemon IV in Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami. Utaemon took the role of Danshichi and his stage partners were Jitsukawa Enzaburo I (as Tsuribune Sabu) and Mimasu Daigoro IV (at Issun Tokube), performed at the Naka no Shibai. It was one of his last roles and he was to die suddenly in 1852.

The print bears a remarkable resemblance to another print by Hirosada of the same performance.   The play is one of many that feature the villainous swindler Danshichi, a fishmonger who lived in the seventeenth century and was famous for murdering his father-in-law. He appears in many plays, and this being the kabuki theatre, his name, the plot and the other characters are all different. In Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami, Danshichi enables two lovers to escape their feuding clans.

This very fine deluxe chuban triptych has the strangely hypnotic duo in the right hand sheet which marks it as an unusual portrayal of kabuki acting style. The print is joined and has Japanese album backing. A deluxe impression, colour, condition and impression are all fine.

Published by Kawaguchi.

56cm x 25cm.