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The actors Nakamura Nakasuke II, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Tomijūrō II and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII (in the play Ume yanagi sakigake zōshi)

The actors Bandō Takesaburō I, Bandō Shūka I, Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII, Iwai Kumesaburō III and Nakamura Fukusuke I

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The actors Nakamura Nakasuke II, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Tomijūrō II and

Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII

(in the play Ume yanagi sakigake zōshi)

by Utagawa Kunisada, 1854

The actors Iwai Kumesaburō III, Ichikawa Ebizō V and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII (in a scene from Koi goromo Karigane zome)


IHL Cat. #1197

About This Print

The actors (right to left) Nakamura Nakasuke II in the role of Yokosone Heikurō, Nakamura Fukusuke in the roll of Shimobe wataru sanpei, Nakamura Tomijūrō II in the role of Gengō Unoki and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII as Yokosone Heitaro in the play Ume yanagi sakigake zōshi [梅柳魁双紙]1, staged at the Ichimura theater in Edo during the third lunar month of 1854.

While only the actor's roles are provided on the print (within the orange cartouches) the website of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University2 provides the actor's names and the title of the play. 

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has the below Kabuki playbill (tsuji banzuke) in their collection, showing the three pieces being performed during the 3rd lunar month of 1854 at the Ichimura-za. 


click on image to enlarge
Tsuji banzuke3 for the kabuki dramas “Ume yanagi sakigake zôshi”, “Sanjûsangendô munagi no yurai”,“Itsumadegusa ukina no kaeuta”. These were staged at the Ichimura Theater (Edo) from the 7th day of the 3rd lunar month of Kaei 7 (1854). The day’s program also included two Jôruri pieces: “Haru tsugegusa enishi no ada yume” that was performed in the Tomimoto-style; and “Sato no misao muken
no kanegoto” that was performed in the Tokiwazu and Takemoto-styles. The banzuke was jointly published by Fukuchi Mohei and Yamamoto Jûgorô.


The Play "Ume yanagi sakagake zōshi"

I have not been able to find any synopsis of this piece in either English or Japanese.

The Actors Pictured in This Collection's Print

For profiles of the actors depicted in this print please see the article The Kabuki Actor.

Death Print (shini-e) Using the Left Panel of the Triptych

On August 8, 1854, about five months after this triptych was issued, Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII committed suicide in Osaka by slashing his wrists. Publisher's rushed to memorialize him by quickly creating memorial prints (shini-eof the actor. One easy way to rush a print into production was use an existing block, in this case the block for the left sheet of this collection's print, adding the appropriate Buddhist memorial items. The publisher has added a death poem to the memorial print reading つゆけきあき/浪花の旅路に/世を夢とおもえは/かなし露の蝶, changed the color of Danjūrō's robes to the appropriate light blue color "death dress" (shini sōzoku) and added two butterflies in the background, symbolic of rebirth after death. 


memorial print
 Japan Art Council record no. 0058196-000-001
 
print as originally issued


1 My guess at a translation of the play's title is "The Earliest Story of the Plum and Willow."
2 Their prints 100-8100, 100-8101, 100-8102
3Tsuji banzuke are also called "below the turret banzuke" (櫓下番付), indicating that they developed from the placards placed in front of theatres to announce an on-going production. To the right is the title of the first piece on the program, while below the names of the actors and their characters run from right to left in order of importance. [source: Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center http://www.glopad.org/jparc/?q=en/prints/home

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #1197
 Title The actors Nakamura Nakasuke II in the role of Yokosone Heikurō [横曽根平九郎], Nakamura Fukusuke in the roll of Shimobe wataru sanpei 下部弥三平], Nakamura Tomijūrō II in the role of Gengō Unoki [言号卯の木] and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII as Yokosone Heitaro [横曽根平太郎]
(in the play Ume yanagi sakigake zōshi [梅柳魁双紙])
 Series  n/a
 Artist 
 Utagawa Kunisada I (1786–1865)
 Signature 
 Toyokuni ga 豊国画 inside of Toshidama cartouche 年玉枠
 Seal  
 Publication Date
Left most seal: date seal reading 嘉二 1854 (Kaei 7/Ansei 1), 3rd month
Right most seal: aratame 改 censor seal
 Publisher
 辻岡 Tsujiokaya Bunsuke; seal reading 文 辻岡屋 Bun, Tsujiokaya; (firm name Kinshōdō)

[Marks: seal 21-228; pub. ref. 548]
 Carver
佐七刻 Sashichi koku
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - slightly rubbed and soiled; several wormholes repaired from back; not backed
 Genre  ukiyo-eyakusha-e
 Miscellaneous  
 Format oban triptych
 H x W Paper right: 14 x 9 5/8 in. (35.6 x 24.4 cm); center: 14 x 9 7/8 in. (35.6 x 25.1 cm); left: 14 x 9 1/2 in. (35.6 x 24.1)
 Collections This Print  The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 100-8100, 100-8101, 100-8102

 Reference Literature
 
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