Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
Nakamura Tsuruzō I (中村つる蔵) as the ferryman Jinbei (渡守甚平) probably from the play Sakura Sôshi Gonichi no Bundan based on Higashiyama Sakura Zōshi ('The Story of Cherry Blossoms on Higashiyama': 東山桜荘子)
Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Itoya Shōbei
(Marks 167 - seal 24-041)
Combined censor/date seal: aratame and 1861, 7th month
Carver: Hori Shinchō
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - an 1851 Kuniyoshi diptych
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - an 1851 Toyokuni III diptych
Kunitachi College of Music Library
Funabashi City Library - another scene from this play
Ritsumeikan University - another Toyokuni III print of Jinbei with a board in his hands
The name Jinbei is sometimes spelled as Jinpei.
Jinbei is a minor character, a ferryman or watashimori (渡し守), who risks his own life to help a friend who had been wronged. Helping his friend is forbidden by the authorities, but his loyalties are too deep. He is a good guy who many of the audience goers would have been rooting for.
Above are a few links to other representations of Jinbei to help you better to understand this singular print seen out of context.
We resolved what Jinbei is doing with that board in his hand after finding another print by Toyokuni III at Ritsumeikan University. Click on that link above and you will see Jinbei trying to protect his old friend from an attacker.
Kabuki 21 wrote: " "Higashiyama Sakura Zôshi" was premiered in the 8th lunar month of 1851 August at the Nakamuraza [casting]. The true incident on which the play was based occurred in 1653 (the direct appeal). When it was dramatized, the names and details, even the era (Muromachi instead of Edo), were changed because of censorship by the shogunate government. For example, the head of the village Kiuchi Sôgo, the evil lord Hotta Masanobu and the shôgun Tokugawa Ietsuna became Asakura Tôgo, Orikoshi Masatomo and Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the drama. Segawa Jokô III mixed in his drama the farmers riot and elements taken from Ryûtei Tanehiko's popular novel "Nise murasaki Inaka Genji" (commonly called "Inaka Genji"). This drama was revised by the playwright Kawatake Shinshichi II. He got rid in his version of the "Inaka Genji" elements. It was staged in the 8th lunar month of 1861 at the Moritaza [casting] under the title "Sakura Sôshi Gonichi no Bundan". The drama was revised during the Meiji era and the real names of the main protagonists were used instead of the names created by Segawa Jokô III."
Itoya Shōbei (糸屋庄兵衛) (publisher)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Nakamura Tsuruzō I (初代中村鶴蔵: 11/1818 to 8/1865) (actor)