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

Print: The Syllable M(ま)as in Masakado (まさかど): Iwai Kumesaburō III (岩井粂三郎) as Takiyasha-hime (瀧夜叉姫) and Nakamura Fukusuke I (初代中村福助ヵ) as Ōtaku Tarō (大屋太郎) from the series Seven Calligraphic Models for Each Character in the Kana Syllabary (Seisho nanatsu iroha - 清書七伊呂波) 

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Dates: 1856,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 21-072)
Date seal: 8/1856
Censor seal: aratame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University ; Edo Tokyo Museum; National Diet Library - example with a grayish toad; National Diet Library - example with a distinctively bluish toad; Hankyu Culture Foundation; Lyon Collection - another print from this series;Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow;

Physical description:

The odds are that this was a very popular series. It combined a number of motifs popular with the buying public in Edo: actors portraying magical figures.

We know of at least three different editions of this print because of the two copies in the National Diet Library collection and the one featured here. One has the giant toad, which dominates the background, appearing mysteriously out of a grey and black haze. The foreground ground is printed in a slightly deeper shade of gray. The other example is exactly the same in every way except the toad and background have a distinctive bluish tint with a green ground in front. The print in the Lyon Collection, it would seem, represents a third variation with a somewhat bluish-gray toad and atmosphere and a gray ground.