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Artist: Shunkōsai Hokushū (春好斎北洲)

Print: Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門) as Kanawa Gorō Imakuni (金輪五郎今国) and Arashi Koroku IV (嵐小六) as Omiwa (おみわ) in Imoseyama Onna Teikin (state 1)

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Dates: 1821,created
Dimensions: 10.5 in,15.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Shunkōsai Hokushū ga
春好斎北洲画

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Lyon (state 3);Lyon (state 2);Smithsonian; Philadelphia Museum of Art;

Physical description:

Roger Keyes in The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints wrote on page 74: "Act IV of Imoseyama is a domestic subplot. Omiwa, the daughter of a sake seller, falls in love with the son of Kamatari, one of the leaders of the anti-Soga party. When he refuses to reveal his identity, she attaches a spool of thread to his cloak and follows him, winding the reel. Her lover is following an unidentified princess with the same device, and all finally find themselves at Iruka's palace. Omiwa is noticed by one of Kamatari's subjects, Kanawa Gorō, who is loitering nearby disguised as Fukashichi, the fisherman. He stabs her. As she dies, he reveals that her lover was a courtier and that she will now be helping him to overthrow Iruka. Fukashichi then mixes her blood with the blood of a black-toed deer and smears it on his magic flute, making it possible to recover a certain Sacred Sword from Iruka at last, and sap his power."

Keyes continues: "The illustration showing the confrontation between Omiwa and Fukashichi at the palace, is one of masterpieces of Osaka printmaking. There are at least three states of the print. The first, reproduced here, is printed with gold ground, and silver and copper pigments; it bears a seal after the signature. The second has a blue ground, blue spots on Utaemon's armor, and a yellow rope pattern. The third lacks the blue block; its background, spots, rope, chin, and hair are uncolored; the stripes on Koruku's kimono seem wider, and the overall effect is less coarse than the above. This print, as well as the two previous bust portraits, could very well have been engraved by Kasuke."

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Also illustrated in color in Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings - 1680-1860 edited by Julia Meech and Jane Oliver, p. 180, 2008.

This illustrates a copy from the Mann Collection, Highland Park, Illinois. In this copy the metallic background appears to be browner, but that may simply be the photograph. Or... maybe not.

The accompanying text by David Pollack for this entry says: "Prints issued first as limited luxury items, including the use of mica and metallic powders... were followed later by larger and cheaper runs that dispensed with the careful hand-shading (bokashi) of colors that required enormous care and skill by the printer... This sort of retailing resembles today's distinction between hardcover and mass-market paperback-book editions."