Signed: Ryūsai Shigeharu ga
This print commemorates a performance at the Kado Theater 1834/1. "The first dance play of quick changes on this theme was performed in 1789, and it remains a popular part of the kabuki repertoire today. The music for this was written and performed by Takemoto Miyodhidayū and was particularly praised at the time.
In the present version of the dance play on the theme, Narihira, Kuronushi, and the priest Henjō, all fall in love with the poetess Ono no Komachi and make poetic proposals, which she refuses. Kuronushi, piqued by his rejection, accuses Komachi of plagiarism during a poetry contest and presents a forged manuscript in a tub of ceremonial sake, while Bunya no Yasuhide and the priest Kisen merrily dance. Shikan performaed all four male roles in this performance and repeated them in Osaka in the spring of 1852, the last play performed before he died.
There are at least two versions of this print: the first witht he stamp of the engraver Kasuke, as here, the second lacking it. Shunbaisai Hokuei also designed a six-panel set of full-length portraits for the same performance... The inscription gives the name of the two actors and the six roles."
Quoted from: The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints by Roger Keyes, p. 132 with a full-page illustration in black and white on page 133.
These figures are Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫) as Sōjō Henjō (僧正遍正), Bunya no Yasuhide (文屋康秀), Ariwara no Narihira (在原業平), Kisen Hōshi (喜撰法師) and Ōtomo no Kuronushi (大伴黒主). Nakamura Baika (中村梅花) as Ono no Komachi (小野小町). The Six Immortal Poets lived during the Heian period. Two of these figures represent priests, Henjō and Hōshi, three courtiers and one lady.
Illustrated in black and white in 原色浮世絵大百科事典 (Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten), vol. 9, p. 126.