Artist: Shunbaisai Hokuei (春梅斎北英)

Print: Arashi Rikan II as Osome on the left and Iwai Shijaku as Hisamatsu in the play Some Moyō Imose no Kadomatsu

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Dates: available,1832
Dimensions: Overall dimensions

Signed: Shunkōsai Hokuei (春江斎北英)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - right panel only; Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - right panel; Tokyo Metropolitan Library - left panel; Tokyo Metropolitan Library - right panel; Freer-Sackler Galleries; National Museums of Scotland - a different Hokuei representation of Osome; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg - left panel ; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg - right panel ;

Physical description:

The curatorial files at the Freer-Sackler Galleries state of this diptych donated by Anne van Biema:

Tragic love affairs, which often ended in double suicides, attracted deep public sympathy both onstage and in life. The love-suicide of Osome and Hisamatsu, which took place in the first decade of the eighteenth century, was so widely known that it quickly became a subject of popular ballads and kabuki plays. This beautiful diptych by the Osaka artist Hokuei conveys much of the emotional resonance of the play's performance in Kyoto in 1833. Iwai Shijaku I (1804- 1845) played both principal roles as well as others for a total of seven in this performance. In this print, the actor is shown playing both lovers, who are each betrothed to another. Onstage, they would appear alternately, appearing and disappearing behind the stage set. The graffiti on the plaster wall of the storehouse gives the names of the lovers beneath an umbrella, followed by oatari (great hit) and "Iwai Shijaku of Kyoto." The design and the exquisite printing of this diptych make it one of Hokuei's finest theatrical prints.


Illustrated in Ikeda bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei, vol. 2, 1998, #301