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Uzaemon in the role of Shirai Gonpachi

 

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Uzaemon in the role of Shirai Gonpachi

(in the play Hiyokuzuka)

by Natori Shunsen, 1915

IHL Cat. #490

About This Print

One of 30 prints (including 2 cover prints and 1 frontispiece) designed by Natori Shunsen that appeared in the magazine Shin Nigao, whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints.  Pictured is Ichikawa Uzaemon XV portraying Shirai Gonpachi.  The entry in the table of contents of issue #5 of Shin Nigao, in which this print appears, identifies the performance as "Hiyokuzuka" (the double grave of lovers who died together) playing at the Kabuki-za. 

The basic storyline involves Gonpachi falling in love with the courtesan Komurasaki and their eventual double suicide.


An image of this collection's print was provided to the National Gallery of Australia and appears in the catalog to their 2012-2013 exhibition Stars of the Tokyo Stage.1

For more information on this short-lived magazine whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints, see the article Shin Nigao Magazine.


The Actor in the Print - Ichikawa Uzaemon XV (1874-1945)

Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/uzaemon15.php and as footnoted
Stage names: Ichimura Uzaemon XV, Ichimura Kakitsu VI, Bandô Takematsu
Other name: Bandô Kakitsu II
Real name: Ichimura Rokutarô

 Uzaemon Ichimura XV as Akashi no Shimazo,
 1921
Ichimura Uzaemon XV 十五代目市村羽左衛門
Born in Hongō in the district of Tenjin-chō. his father may have been a blue-blooded Frenchman.2 He is adopted by Ichimura Uzaemon XIV, who gives him the name of Ichimura Rokutarō.  In October 1903 he takes the name of Ichimura Uzaemon XV.

Ichimura Uzaemon XV was one of the best tachiyaku of the first half of the twentieth century. He had a great physical appearance, a strong presence on stage and an amazing voice. He was the nimaime or the sabakiyaku par excellence. He kept on playing young lover roles even in his latter years and never performed any old man roles. His duo with Onoe Baikō VI was one of the most famous goruden kombi in Kabuki history. When his best stage partner died in 1934, he successfully performed in duo with Kataoka Nizaemon XII.

The actor Onoe Kikugorō VI (1885-194) called him “a 150-watt light bulb” who would "... simply come on stage and the whole theatre would  light up.”3

He is best known for his roles in the Kakōshū collection of plays and outside of Kakōshū for his roles as Shirai Gonpachi in Suzugamori, as pictured in this print, Mitsugi in Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba, Katsuyori  in Jusshukō, and Sakuramaru in Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami."

For additional information on the kabuki actor see the article The Kabuki Actor on this website.

1 Stars of the Tokyo Stage, Lucie Folan, et. al., National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 10.
2 His father's French ethnicity is disputed and the actor remained silent on his parentage.
3 The Man Who Saved Kabuki: Faubion Bowers and Theatre Censorship in Occupied Japan, Shiro Okamoto, University of Hawaii Press, 2001, p. 29.


Natori Shunsen Catalogue Raisonné Entry

Catalogue Raisonné – Ukiyoe Kabuki Gi Han Ga: Shunsen Natori
(The Skill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints),

Kushigata Municipal Shunsen Museum
Kushigata, Japan; 1991, p.95, pl. 181.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #490
 Title (Description)
 羽左衛門の白井権八 Uzaemon no Shirai Gonpachi
(The Actor Ichikawa Uzaemon XV in the role of Shirai Gonpachi in the play Komurasaki hiykuzuka no hanashi)

 Magazine Shin Nigao (New Portraits) volume five 新似顔 第一年五編
 Catalogue Raisonné  Number 181
 Artist
 Natori Shunsen (1886-1960)
 Signature
 Shunsen
 Seal  artist's flower pattern seal
 Date  1915
 Edition  First and only edition printed in magazine Shin Nigao
 Publisher  Nigaodō 似顔洞
 Carver  Igami Bonkotsu (1875-1933)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Miscellaneous
entry in table of contents for Issue #5 of Shin Nigao
 歌舞伎座 Kabuki-za
十月狂言 October Kyōgen
比翼塚 Hiyokuzuka
羽左衛門 Uzaemon
権八 Gonpachi
 Genre  shin hanga (new prints); nigao-e
 Format  koban
 H x W Paper  7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (18.4 x 12.1 cm)
 Collections This Print  
 Reference Literature Catalogue Raisonné – Ukiyoe Kabuki Gi Han Ga: Shunsen Natori (The Skill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints), Kushigata Municipal Shunsen Museum, Kushigata, Japan, 1991, p.95; Stars of the Tokyo Stage, Lucie Folan, et. al., National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 10.
last revision:
11/18/2018

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