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

Print: Matsumoto Kōshirō V (松本幸四郎) as the robber Ishikawa Goemon (石川五右衛門) in the play Sanmon gosan no kiri [楼門五三桐]

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Dates: 1826,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
五渡亭国貞画
Publisher: Ōmiya Heihachi (Marks 413 - seal 01-102)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: British Museum; Ritsumeikan University - all eight examples (over two pages); Lyon Collection - another print from this series;

Physical description:

There are two different known editions of this print. They can be differentiated by the end of the actor's sleeves. It is either brown or green. We don't know which one is earlier.

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Below are two different readings of the poem on this page. The first is from Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty.

hatsugiri tatsu ya / fuyō no / hana no hana

The first haze rises -
the 'nose flower' as beautiful
as the cotton rose.

This translation is by Maria L. Bugno.

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The poem written at the top of this print is by Shūyatei Kinshō (秋夜亭錦升), Matsumoto Kōshirō V's poetic name.

The text reads:

Hatsugasumi tatsuya fuyo no hana no hana

初霞たつや芙蓉の鼻の峰.

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This print is from a series of 12 portraits of kabuki actors in famous roles. Each is accompanied by a poem. Eight prints from this series can be found at Ritsumeikan University. See the link above.

It should also be noted that there are two versions of the print featured here.

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The play Sanmon gosan no kiri was written by Gohei Namiki I (1747-1808).

Namiki was a "...playwright of Kabuki kyōgen (farces) who left more than 100 plays written during a 40-year career. He studied with the dramatist Namiki Shōzō and by 1775 was chief playwright for the Hayakumo-za Kabuki theatre, where he introduced the system of naming each play with its own title and contributed to the improvement of the status of dramatists. He also helped establish a new genre, sewamono (“plays about contemporary life”), in the Kabuki repertoire, which had dealt primarily with historical themes. In 1794 he moved to Kyōto to work for the Miyako Theatre. While there he started the custom of presenting two separate plays, a historical drama and a domestic drama, on the same program rather than one long play.

Namiki’s works are valued for their logical plot structure and emphasis on rational rather than emotional content. Some of his most famous plays are Godairiki koi no fūjime, Kanjin kammon tekuda no hajimari, Sanmon gosan no kiri, Natane no gokū, Satokotoba awasekagami, Sumida no haru qeisha katagi, and Tomigaoka koi no yamabiraki.

Quoted from the Encyclopedia Britannica online.

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Illustrated with a large color reproduction in Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty by Robert Schaap, p. 88.