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The Actor Nakamura Shikan in the role of Ishikawa Goemon from the series Twenty-four Favorites of New Civilization

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Actor Nakamura Shikan

in the role of Ishikawa Goemon from the series

Twenty-four Favorites of New Civilization

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1877

IHL Cat. #394

About This Print

The actor Nakamura Shikan 中村 芝翫 playing the role of the thief Ishikawa Goemon 石川五右衛門  from the series Twenty-Four Favorites of New Civilization.  A bird delivering a message is contrasted with the telegraph wires in the inset.  The same, or very similar, drawing of the Nakamura Shikan's head was used in a triptych print made in the following year by a different publisher.

Comparison of 1879 and 1880 prints

The Actor Nakamura Shikan

Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/shikan4.php
Nakamura Shikan IV 中村芝翫 (3 March 1831 ~ 16 January 1899) was a great Meiji actor, who achieved fame for himself all over Japan (he toured a lot). He was equally at home in sewamono and jidaimono dramas, able to play almost any kind of role as tachiyaku, katakiyaku or even onnagata. He created many kata and some of them are still sometimes revived, like the ones for the role of Kumagai Jirô Naozane in the "Kumagai Jin'ya" scene of the classic "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki".

His rivalry with Bandô Hikosaburô V was one of the hottest in Kabuki history: "So nearly matched in ability were Shikan and Hikosaburô, with but two years' difference in their ages, that they were pitted against each other, and their patrons often indulged in fights over them. During a performance, when these actors were playing together, they came through the audience by way of the two hanamichi, the one to the right of the stage a mere footpath, that to the left a platform that was in reality a continuation of the stage proper. They quarrelled as to who should take the main hanamichi, and the dispute waxed so hot that they finally drew lots to settle the matter." (Zoë Kincaid in Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #394
 Title (Description)  The Actor Nakamura Shikan in the role of Ishikawa Goemon - the word denshin 電信 (telegraph) appears in the bottom of the cartouche bearing the series title.
 Series Twenty-four Favorites of Meiji Restoration (Kaika nijushi-ko 開化廿四好) (also read as  Twenty-four Favorites of Enlightenment or Twenty-four Favorites of New Civilization)
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature  Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with toshidama seal
 Seal  toshidama seal
 Publication Date  1877
 Publisher  Sawamuraya Seikichi - sealed as 武川清吉板 Takakawa Seikichi from 1876. Address 須田町四番地 Sudachō Yonchōme 4-banchi
 Carver Horikō Gin 彫工銀 seal of Asai Ginjirō (1844-1894)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition fair - full-size, partially backed, heavy wrinkling and minor soiling
 Genre  ukiyo-e; nigao-e; yakusha-e
 Miscellaneous  one of the cartouches in the bottom left margin indicates the print was drawn by (gakko) Arakawa Yasohachi, a combination of his mother's surname and the artist's given name.
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 7/8 x 9 3/8 in. (35.2 x 23.8 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 3/4 x 8 1/4 in. (32.4 x 21 cm)
 Collections This Print
 The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-3854; National Institute of Japanese Literature 37TA-0417-0000-0000_00