Toyokuni III Utagawa, Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Ichizo, Tattoo Design


Artist: Toyokuni III Utagawa (1786-1865)
Title: Ichikawa Ichizo III as Dekiboshi no Sankichi
Series: Mirrors for Collage Pictures in the Modern Styles
Publisher: Fujiokaya Keijiro
Date: 1859
Size: 37.0 x 26.2 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

'Mirrors for Collage Pictures in the Modern Styles' is a series by Toyokuni III featuring actors viewed as a reflection from a black and gold framed bronze mirror accompanied by a poem in their own hand. The background has a printed pattern imitating decorative, gold-flecked paper.

Ichikawa Ichizo III was a promising 19th century kabuki actor, able to perform a wide range of roles. An iconic event of his career happened in 1857 when a samurai who was watching Ichizo's performance was so caught up in the actions on stage, suddenly drew his sword and jumped on the stage to strike the actor. Thanks to this unexpected samurai brawl, the play was a huge success.

More Information
Print Format Oban (Vertical)
Artist Name Toyokuni III Utagawa (Kunisada I)
Title Ichikawa Ichizo III as Dekiboshi no Sankichi
Subject Samurai & Male, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo
Dimensions 37.0 x 26.2 cm
Condition Report Very light creases and a few spots.
Publisher Fujioka-ya Keijiro

Toyokuni III Utagawa (Kunisada I)

Kunisada became a pupil of Toyokuni at the age of 15, and would later, after the latter’s death, assume his name. Kunisada’s pictures reflect the culture of Japan in the years leading up to the country’s opening to the West. His first book illustrations were published in 1807 and his first actor portrait the following year. Alongside theatrical scenes and courtesans, yakusha-e was his preferred genre amidst all his popular and extensive output. As he painted very many of these, continuing the stout realism of his teacher, he acquired the sobriquet “Yakusha-e no Kunisada” – Kunisada, the actor painter. In his numerous bijin-ga he clung to the deal of beauty prevalent at the time. While his style must be described as powerful and realistic, even coarsely so, his draughtsmanship and coloration are if anything monotonous and lacking finesse. From 1830 he continued the development of the Utagawa school, and from 1844 onwards signed his works Toyokuni III.