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

Print: Triptych of kabuki actors on a pleasure outing sailing by a group of performing swimmers who are themselves kabuki actors

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Dates: 1852,created
Dimensions: 29.25 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: konomi ni makasete Toyokuni ga
好まかせて豊国画
"to my own taste, Toyokuni drew this picture"
Publisher: Enshūya Hikobei
(Marks 055 - seal not listed)
Date: 5/1852
Censor seals: Hama and Magome

Related links: Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - center panel; Waseda University - right panel;

Physical description:

Waseda University identifies the figures in this triptych in the water as: (on the left panel) Ichikawa Saruzō I, Bandō Shuka I, Nakamura Kanjūrō I (中村翫十郎), and Arashi Otokichi; (middle panel) Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII, Bandō Takesaburō I, Iwai Kumesaburō III, Ichikawa Hirogorō (市川広五郎), and Arashi Kangorō; (right panel) Nakayama Bungorō II. .

The figures of the swimmers are themselves the kabuki actors listed above. However, we are not convinced of their accuracy since the only Nakamura Kanjūrō we know of may have died in 1840.

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Illustrated in color in A Special Exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints: Ukiyo-e from Tadashi Goino's Collections (日本浮世繪兿術特展: 五井野正先生収藏展), National Museum of History [Taipei], 1999, 82.

This catalogue refers to this triptych as Water acrobats during a heat wave. The text reads partially: "The covered boat (yakatabune) was originally for transporting freight or passengers, but was soon adapted for pleasure outings seeking relief from the heat on land - an event which survives to this day. In the stern, the boatman prepares refreshments for the revellers; in the water, acrobats perform what can only be called the forerunner of synchronized swimming."

The author of this passage believes that this is the Ryōgoku Bridge.