////Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III). Kabuki actor Nakamura Shikan II as Gotobei / Fan print, 1830.

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III). Kabuki actor Nakamura Shikan II as Gotobei / Fan print, 1830.

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada [歌川 国貞] a.k.a. Utagawa Toyokuni III [三代歌川豊国] (Japanese, 1786 – 1865).

Signed: Kunisada ga [国貞画] in a yellow double-gourd cartouche.

Publisher: Ibaya Senzaburo [伊場屋仙三郎] (Japanese, fl. c. 1845 – 1847).

Date aratame seal: Bunsei 13 – Tenpō 1 (1830).

Actor: Nakamura Utaemon IV [中村歌右衛門] (Japanese, 1796 – 1852); other names: Nakamura Shikan II [二代目中村芝翫], Nakamura Tsurusuke I, Nakamura Tōtarō.

Play:  Yoshitsune’s Letter at Koshigoe [義経腰越状] (Yoshitsune Koshigoe-jo).

Uncut fan print (uchiwa-e, 団 扇 絵), 229 x 267 mm, depicting kabuki actor Nakamura Shikan [中村芝翫] as Gotobei [五斗兵衛]. Nakamura Utaemon IV held the name of Nakamura Shikan II from the 11th lunar month of 1825 to the 1st lunar month of 1836. He was born as Hirano Kichitarō in Edo in 1796.

Another fan print with the same subject in this collection [SVJP-0344.2021]:

“…The play Yoshitsune Koshigoe-jo was originally written for the puppet theatre (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 7th lunar month of 1754 in Ôsaka at the Toyotakeza. It was a revision of two early plays, Namiki Sōsuke’s Nanbantetsu Gotō no Menuki (1735) and Yoshitsune Shin Fukumijō (1744). The title, which suggested that the play focused on Minamoto no Yoshitsune, was in fact dealing with the siege of the Ōsaka Castle, led by Tokugawa Ieyasu to destroy the Toyotomi clan in 1614 and 1615. This play was quickly forbidden because of the 4th act in which Gotobei’s wife fired a gun at Yoritomo (this was of course interpreted as an attack on the Shogunate). Yoshitsune Koshigoe-jo was revised in 1770 by Toyotake Ōritsu, who completely rewrote the 4th act for a puppet production at the Kitahorieza in Ōsaka”. Yoshitsune Koshigoe-jo was staged for the first time in Edo, at the Ichimuraza on the 9th lunar month of 1790, and is still performed.

Gotobei [五斗兵衛] (Gotohei or Gotobē), one of Yoshitsune’s loyal retainers, is forced to choose between his son’s life or his loyalty to Yoshitsune. Nishikidō brothers, who do not want Gotobei to become Yoshitsune’s chief strategist, forced him to drink sake and get asleep. To prove Gotobei’s military abilities, Izumi no Saburō fires a gun next to Gotobei’s ear, and “he jumps up immediately, in full possession of his senses, ready to repulse any enemy”. See: [LIB-1193.2013] Samuel L. Leiter. Kabuki Encyclopedia: An English-language adaptation of Kabuki Jiten. — Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1979; pp. 266-7).

Ref:  [LIB-2993.2022] Fig. 24 in Israel Goldman. Japanese prints and paintings / 40th anniversary; Catalogue 27, 2021.

Two more Kunisada’s fan prints (in Paul Griffith’s collection), depicting the same actor Nakamura Shikan II as Toneri Matsuōmaru [舎人松王丸] were published in 1832 by Iseya Ichiemon. The play was Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy [菅原伝授手習鑑] (Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami). See: [LIB-1212.2017] Robert Schaap. Kunisada: Imaging, drama and beauty / Introduction by Sebastian Izzard, contributions by Paul Griffith and Henk. J. Herwig. — Leiden: Hotei Publishing, ©2016.

SKU: SVJP-0349.2021 Categories: ,

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