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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門) as Sukematsu no Kazue (助松かづえ) -
center panel of a triptych based on the play Five Chivalrous Women of the Yoshiwara
(Otokodate iromo Yoshiwara - 男作女吉原)

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Dates: 1815,created
Dimensions: 9.65 in,14.57 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
五渡亭国貞画
Publisher: Hiranoya Chōemon
(Marks 112 - seal 02-055)

Related links: Waseda University; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - the full triptych; Google maps - Yoshiwara Shrine - one of the only signs of where this famous district was;

Physical description:

The play that this performance comes from, the Otokodate iromo Yoshiwara, is an Edo version of the better known Natsu matsuri Naniwa kagami. This play opened in the 7/1815.

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In his right hand Utaemon is holding a sandal* while staring at it intensely. In his left hand he is holding the handle of a closed umbrella which is resting on the shoulder of a figure - not shown here - who dominates the right hand panel of the triptych and who is about to strike with his upraised sword..

*Sandals are often used as props in kabuki plays and more often than not they indicate an element of a coming strike from a vendetta or a past act of revenge.

Clearly the sandal is not Utaemon's because he is wearing a pair of geta, standard footwear for many otokodate. Elsewhere Sukematsu Kazue is referred to as a physician.

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The actor's name and role appears in white reserve in the upper left of the sheet.


Danshichi Kurobei triptych at MFA Boston