Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
Double portrait of Ichikawa Ebizō V (市川海老蔵) as Toneri Matsuōmaru (舎人松王丸) and Ichikawa Gangyoku I (市川眼玉) as Shundō Genba (春藤玄蕃) from an untitled series of paired actors on poem slips (tanzaku)
9.5 in x 13.75 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: ōju (by special request) Kōchōrō Toyokuni ga
Publisher: Sanoya Kihei (Marks 446 - seal 17-001)
Censors' seals: Kinugasa and Watanabe
Seal: shita-uri or 'discreet sale' (シタ売)
National Diet Library
Hankyu Culture Foundation
Bibliothèque nationale de France - #22 in an album
Ackland Museum of Art, University of North Carolina - the right-hand side only
Lyon Collection - another example from this series - the nun Seigen and Yodohira
Lyon Collection - another example from this series The background of this print uses the itame mokuhan or imitation woodgrain technique (板目木版).
"The printing of a wood grain within a print. A wood plank is soaked in water to open up the grain and is then inked and printed to intentionally reproduce the nature of the wood itself."
Both of these figures, Genba on the left, and Matsuōmaru on the right, play important roles in the kabuki play Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy. Genba is based loosely on a genuine, historical figure from the Heian court living at the same time as Michizane no Sugawara. The original Genba was the secretary in charge of visiting foreign emissaries and in the running of Buddhist organizations.
There is another copy of this print in the National Gallery, Prague.
There are approximately 16 prints from this series in the collection of Ritsumeikan University.
1) 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, 80.
The catalogue entry states that these two characters "...appear in the famous piece still performed today, called Sugawara-denju tenarai kagami. The story takes material from an actual event of Sugawara Michizane's demotion due to the conspiracy of the rivalling Fujiwara Shihei.This print depicts the highlight in the play when Matsuomaru proves his loyalty to Sugawara by offering his son's head to Gemba, in place of Sugawara's child."
2) in color in 'The Joe Hloucha Collection of woodblock prints in the National Gallery in Prague' by Jana Ryndová, in Andon 104, November 2017, p. 13.
"The imperial servant Matsuōmaru and the vassal of the manipulative minister Fujiwara no Shihei, Shundō Genba.... The portrait of Matsuōmaru (right) is accompanied by the following sealed calligraphic tanka:
Iku toshi mo / nani to te matsu ha / aohi mono / tsutanaki gyō no / tsure nakarikeru
Even the passing years / do not change the freshness of the pine/ the pine humbly keeps / green needles while following / the rules of steadiness"
"The poetry next to the portrait of Shundō Genba (left) reads:
Mizu noru kenba mo / natsu no kaze / no sei ka na
Even the humble waters / the summer breeze may / blow and stir swiftly"
The term shita-uri as a special meaning according to Sarah Thompson in Undercurrents in the Floating World: Censorship and Japanese Prints in describing a multi-panel composition on pages 52-53: "A further concession to the reform laws, the print bears a special seal on each sheet reading shitauri, or "selling below," indicating that it could be sold only from the counter and not hung up for display at the front of the store."
Ichikawa Ebizō V (五代目市川海老蔵: 11/1797 to 10/1800 and 3/1832 to 3/1859) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Sanoya Kihei (佐野屋喜兵衛) (publisher)
Ichikawa Gangyoku I (初代市川眼玉) (actor)