Katsukawa SHUN’EI (1762-1819)


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The actor Segawa Kikunojo III as Yasukata performing a vigorous hobby-horse dance in Godai Genji mitsugi no furisode. Published by Tsuruya Kiemon c1790-91. Ex Tamba collection (seal bottom right).


Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Shun’ei ga.



Status: Sold

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Taiso YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)


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An actor as a tattooed fireman from a set of seven prints Isami no Kotobuki. “A Celebration of Gallantry”. Firemen often had elaborate tattoos to show their indifference to pain. The set published by Daikin 8/1865. Rare.


Very fine impression and colour. On thick deluxe hosho. Extensive burnishing. Gofun oxidised (as usual). Slight offsetting of blue pigment, otherwise very good condtion. Signed Gyokuo Yoshitoshi hitsu.



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Taiso YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)


Taiso-YOSHITOSHI-1839-to-1892-actors3


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An actor as a tattooed fireman from a set of seven prints Isami no Kotobuki. “A Celebration of Gallantry”. Firemen often had elaborate tattoos to show their indifference to pain. The set published by Daikin 8/1865. Rare.


Very fine impression and colour. On thick deluxe hosho. Gofun oxidised (as usual). otherwise fine condtion. Signed Gyokuo Yoshitoshi hitsu.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A lively design showing Ichikawa Danjuro VII in the role of the loyal warrior Arajishi Otokonosuke Terumitsu fighting a giant rat in the cellar beneath the women’s quarters of the Ashikaga Palace. This scene, Yukashita no Ba, is from the play Date kurabe okuni Kabuki performed at the Kawarasaki-za Theatre, 3/1829. Shortly afterwards, the rat escapes down a hole in the hanamichi pathway, only to re-emerge in a cloud of smoke as the arch-villain and master of the black arts, Nikki Danjo. Published by Eikyudo (Yamamoto Kyubei) 1829.

 

Fine impression, colour and condition on an extra large sheet of hosho. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A fine surimono showing the actor Danjuro VII casting roasted beans from a tray he holds in his left hand. This ritual called setsubun, “end of winter” was performed in the precincts of temples in the Spring (although now takes place in February). He wears the well known Shibaraku costume with the large mimasu crests. Two poems above by Shiseido Sutena and Hoichitei Masunari. The latter being a member of the Taiko-ren, Drum poetry club. Their symbol top right corner. Issued c 1822. Illustrated in colour on the front cover of Art of the Surimono, Theodore Bowie, Indiana University Art Museum, 1979. Rare.

 

Superb impression with extensive gold and silver. Perfect colour. Light Japanese backing and slightly trimmed at left. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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SESSHUNSAI (Dates unknown but active c 1800)




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An extremely rare early Osaka hosoban showing the actor Asao Tamejuro II (1779-1806) standing before a broken barricade in the role of Yamashiro Kantsubo in the play Meiboku sendai hagi. This artist and print appear to be unrecorded. Published by Houki (Honya Kichisai), c early 1800. A wonderful design. Many thanks to Hendrick Luhl for his help on this print.

 

Very good impression and colour. The fujitive background aobana, dayflower pigment, intact except for one small area affected by moisture visible au verso. Very good condition. Signed Sesshunsai ga with seal unread.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Jokei RYUKOSAI (Fl. c 1772-1816)




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The most important and influential Osaka artist of the late eighteenth century. An innovator whose style may well have influenced such artists as Shunei and Sharaku. His prints – mostly hosoban – are all of the utmost rarity. Indeed, it is thought they originally formed triptychs but, so far, no complete design has been located. The oban design offered here is even rarer, there being only two other impressions known: Illustrated in colour, pl. 13, in Kamigata Ukiyo-e Nihyaku-nen Ten, “200 Years of Kamigata Ukiyo-e,” Susumu Matsudaira, 1975; and pl. 43, p. 56, catalogue of exhibition Ukiyo-e of the Kamigata Area at the Osaka Museum of History and Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum, Kitagawa Hiroko, 2014. Shows five actors. From right to left (rear): Nakamura Kyojuro, Arashi Sangoro III, Kataoka Nizaemon VII and (front): Asao Tamejiro I, Ichikawa Danzo IV. Published c 1790 by Ki.

 

Fine impression. Very good colour. Small areas of contemporary hand colouring to face and costume of Tamejiro. Slight folds and small sumi mark bottom left, otherwise very good condition. Probably full size. Signed Ryukosai ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Jokei RYUKOSAI (Fl. c 1772-1816)




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The most important and influential Osaka artist of the late eighteenth century. An innovator whose style may well have influenced such artists as Shunei and Sharaku. His prints – mostly hosoban – are all of the utmost rarity. Indeed, it is thought, as here, that they originally formed triptychs but, so far, no complete design has been located. The unsigned left panel of a triptych published 1/1793 showing Onoe Shinshichi I (Fujaku) as Isshiki Yukinokami in the play Keisai yanagi sakura. The play involves the rescue of the Ashikaga Shogunate through the efforts of Yukinokami in uncovering a usurper’s plot. The hero stands in a snowy garden holding a fragment of a handscroll he has been found reading. Of the utmost rarity: Only a few impressions are known and there are two states: As here without role above and published by Osakaya Sashichi and with the calligraphy and published by Shiocho.

 

Fine impression, colour and condition.

 

Status: Sold

 

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TOGAKUSAI (Active c 1782)




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An extremely rare and early Osaka hosoban (probably unrecorded) showing the actor Kano Hinasuke I (who later became Arashi Koroku III) standing on large geta and holding an umbrella. Published by Shioki-han (Shioya Kisuke), c 1782. The poem above is signed using the actor’s hango Arashi Minshi. Only a few designs are known by this artist. Many thanks to Hendrick Luhl for his help on this print.

 

Very good impression and colour. Some wear and tear which has been skilfully restored. On very thin paper. Signed Togakusai hitsu with seal Sadakuni.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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An exceptionally rare original double-sided woodblock. On one side is the key-block showing Ichikawa Danjuro VII as the strongman, “chikaramochi,” Ura no Kingo. On the other is the key-block showing Iwai Kumesaburo II as the female acrobat, “karuwazashi,” Tamamoto Kosan. The play is Fujikawabune noriai banashi performed at the Nakamura-za Theatre, 5/1826. The block measures 8.5 x 10.75 x .75 in; 21.6 x 27.3 x 2 cms. The two images signed Gototei Kunisada ga. In very good condition but with obvious minor damage. Sold “as is.”


 

Status: Sold

 




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Taiso YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)


Taiso-YOSHITOSHI-1839-to-1892-actors2


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An actor as a tattooed fireman from a set of seven prints Isami no Kotobuki. “A Celebration of Gallantry”. Firemen often had elaborate tattoos to show their indifference to pain. The set published by Daikin 8/1865. Rare.


Very fine impression and colour. On thick deluxe hosho. Gofun oxidised (as usual). otherwise fine condtion. Signed Gyokuo Yoshitoshi hitsu.



Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUNSHO (1726-1792)




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The actors Ichimura Uzaemon IX and Bando Matatoro IV (hand-written in sumi) grappling together. Published c.1768. Not in Gookin.


Very good impression. Some fading. Wonderful blue ground. Very good condition. Signed Shunsho ga with Hayashi in jar-shaped outline seal.



Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUNEI (1762-1819)




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Iwai Hanshiro IV in a shibaraku role, probably as Akita Jonosuke Yoshikage from the play Mieiko nori no hachi no ki performed at the Kawarazaki Theatre in the 11th month, 1791. Published by Harimaya Shinshichi. Ex Beres collection, sold Paris 2002, lot 39.


Fine impression; very good colour. Slight edge thinning and very small nick out of top margin, otherwise very good condition. Signed Shunei ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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The actors Otani Tomoemon II as Iwaki Yagenji and Bando Mitsugoro II as Wakato Tomoji in the play Tsuki wa Musashino aki no sewa goto performed at the Kiriza theatre, 7/1797. One of Toyokuni’s best double bust portraits. Published by Moriya Jihei 1797. Ex Hayashi collection ( seal top left ).


Fine impression. Very good colour. Very slight centre fold and one small wormhole. Signed Toyokuni ga.



Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUNSHO (1726-1792)




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The actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as Kajiwara Genta. Published c early 1780s. Illustrated in T.N.M.C. vol.1, no. 1051. A night scene. The actor deploys an umbrella and holds a lantern with the other hand. Not listed by Gookin.


Very good impression and colour. Some oxidation. Signed Shunsho ga.



Status: Sold

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Toyohara KUNICHIKA ( 1835-1900 )




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A vertical diptych showing the actor Onoe Kikugoro V in the role of Komamonoya Saijiro, “Saijiro of the haberdashery store,” fighting a giant serpent in the play Inaba Kozo ame no yobanashi performed at the Nakamura-za theatre in 11/1887. Published by Fukuda Kumajiro in 1887. Evidently the actor was swallowed whole during this scene ! An extremely rare print.


Fine impression and colour. Extensive mica on the serpent’s head and body. This is the only impression of this design I have seen retaining the publication details in the left margin ( albeit even here slightly trimmed ). Very good condition. Ample margin for joining the two sheets.  Signed Oju Toyohara Kunichika hitsu.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA ( 1786-1864 )




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An uncut fan print showing a bust portrait of the actor Nakamura Shikan II as Matsuomaru in the scene Kuruma-biki from the play Sugawara denju tenari kagami, “Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy” performed at the Nakamura-za theatre, 5/1832. This episode gives rise to one of Kabuki’s most celebrated scenes involving Matsuomaru’s two brothers and the carriage of Shihei. Extremely rare. Published 1832. Publisher not identified.


Very good impression and colour. Slight vertical crease and small edge wormage at top, otherwise good condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA ( 1786-1864 )




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The actor Nakamura Shikan II as Shoki, the demon queller. One of the nine roles in the hengemono dance Kyo kokonoe yayoi no hanamichi performed at the Nakamura-za theatre, 3/1833.Shoki ( Chin: Chung K’uei ) is said to have visited the sick T’ang dynasty emperor, Ming Huang, when he was tormented by fever demons. He recovered and Shoki told the emperor he had promised to rid the country of evil to repay the respect given him by a past emperor after he committed suicide. A favourite character in Japan, he is often depicted in red to ward off evil spirits and shown fighting demons. Paintings of Shoki were hung on Boy’s Day. Published by Yamamoto Kyubei, 1833. Rare.


Very good impression and colour. Slight soil and edge crease at left edge, otherwise good condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Okumura TOSHINOBU (active c. 1717-1750)




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A hosoban showing an interior scene with the actor Ogino Isaburo I ( 1703-48 ), seated and playing a shamisen with a plectrum. Behind him is a courtesan, one hand on the shamisen. Toshinobu may have been the adopted son of Okumura Masanobu. Published by Soshu ( Sagami ) – ya c. 1725-30.


Good impression. Nice hand colouring with beni, mustard, yellow, blue and the addition of gum and gold powder ( bronze or brass ). Slight toning and loss of gold. Unsigned.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A bust portrait of the famous quick-change actor Bando Mitsugoro III as Kajiwara Genta Kagetoki. Performed at the Ichimura-za Theatre in the 3rd month 1811 ( Bunka 8 ). From Kunisada’s finest set: Oatari kyoden no uchi, “Great Performances.” A set of seven prints of celebrated roles of the previous eight years selected from the Oatari kyogen, “Big Hits.” Sumptuously produced with mica grounds which had not been used for twenty years. The expressive poses hark back to similar prints by Toyokuni I and Kunimasa. Exceedingly rare, on a par with many Sharaku prints. Published by Fukusendo, c 1815. Another impression is in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich.


Fine impression. Slightly trimmed left side towards the top and repaired binding holes at top, otherwise good condition. Very good colour with the mica well retained. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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A double actor portrait showing Ichikawa Yaozo III in the role of Ume no Yoshibei, and Segawa Kikunojo III as his wife Koume, in the play Zoho Ume no Yoshibei performed at the Ichimura-za Theatre in the 4th month of 1801 ( Kyoho 1 ). Published by Uemura Yohei. Toyokuni was the pupil of Utagawa Toyoharu and went on to produce some of the finest actor prints of the period.

Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size. Signed Toyokuni ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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A double actor portrait showing Arashi Hinasuke II in the role of Fuwa Banzaemon, and Segawa Kikunojo III as the lady Okuni Gozen, in the play Jujo Genji Monogusa Taro performed at the Ichimura-za Theatre in the 8th month of 1800 ( Kansei 12 ). Published by Nishimuraya Yohachi. Toyokuni was the pupil of Utagawa Toyoharu and went on to produce some of the finest actor prints of the period.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size. Signed Toyokuni ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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A fine double actor portrait showing Segawa Kikunojo III as Wakasa no tsubone, and Arashi Sanpachi I as Miura Danjo in the play Utsukushiya yuki no sekai, performed at the Ichimura-za Theatre in the 11th month of 1799 ( Kansei 11 ). Published by Nishimuraya Yohachi. Toyokuni was the pupil of Utagawa Toyoharu and went on to produce some of the finest actor prints of the period.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size. Signed Toyokuni ga.


Status: Sold

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Torii KIYOTSUNE (active 1757-1779)




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Little is known of the artist’s life except that he was a pupil of Kiyomitsu. Shows the actor Bando Hikosaburo II as Watanabe no Tsuna and Nakamura Tomijuro as Ibaraki. This famous story recounts how Watanabe no Tsuna cuts off the arm of the demon Ibaraki at the Rashomon Gate, Kyoto in 976. He secretes the arm away in a box. Subsequently he is visited by his wet-nurse ( or aunt – depending on which version you read ) who convinces him to show it to her. Instantly she snatches the arm and flies off revealing herself to be Ibaraki in disguise. The story became the famous no play Ibaraki. Published by Bakuro-cho ichome, Yamashiro han, c. late 1760s.


Fine impression. Pristine condition. The fugitive dyes perfectly retained. In the same condition as the day it was printed. Signed Torii Kiyotsune fude.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A bust portrait of the famous onnagata actor Iwai Hanshiro V in the machi musume, “town maiden” role of Oshichi. A greengrocer’s daughter, she burned down most of Edo in order to be with her lover Kichisaburo. He first performed the role at the Morita-za Theatre in 3/1809 in Sono mukashi koi no edozome. From Kunisada’s finest set: Oatari kyoden no uchi, “Great Performances.” A set of seven prints of celebrated roles of the previous eight years selected from the Oatari kyogen, “Big Hits.” Sumptuously produced with mica grounds which had not been used for twenty years. The expressive poses hark back to similar prints by Toyokuni I and Kunimasa. Exceedingly rare, on a par with many Sharaku prints. Published by Fukusendo, c 1815. Other impressions in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam ( 1956:667 ) and illustrated in Ukiyoe Taikei, vol. 10, no. 146, p. 99.


Fine impression. Completely untrimmed. Very good colour with the purple intact and only slight turning at the edge. Slight loss of mica ( as usual ) and minor soil, otherwise very good condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Toyohara KUNICHIKA (1835-1900)




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The actor Ichikawa Sandanji I as Akiyama Kiimori holding a sword amidst a conflagration. Yakiuchi no ba from a set Meijiza Shinkyogen, “New Plays for the Meiji Theatre.” Although the play is unidentified the house in the background has been set on fire in an attempt to capture the hero Kiimori. Kunichika’s best print in this genre. Published by Akiyama Buemon, 1894.


Fine impression and colour. Light album backing, otherwise fine condition. Signed Toyohara Kunichika hitsu.


Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUN’EI (1762-1819)




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The actor Matsumoto Koshiro IV. One of a rare series of bust portraits, each with the haigo ( poetic ) name and a fanciful title. Here: Kinko and Koraiya. Koshiro was well known as a haiku poet. Published by Iseya Jisuke, c early 1790s. Originally purchased by me at Sothebys, 13/12/1993, lot 12.


Very good impression. Slight fading, otherwise very good condition. Full size. Signed Shunei ga.


Status: Sold

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Utagawa YOSHIIKU (1833-1904)




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A rare print with title in a fishing net: Mitate nitaka kingyo, “A Parody of Goldfish with Actor’s Expressions.” The public would, of course, have recognised these actors, and Kuniyoshi and several pupils had a penchant for them. Indeed, Yoshiiku went on to be a cartoonist for the Tokyo Eiri Shimbun [ newspaper ]. Published 1863.


Very good impression and colour. Minor soil, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ikkeisai Yoshiiku giga.


Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUNSHO (1726-1792)




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The actor Nakamura Nakazo I as Prince Koreakira, younger brother of Emperor Go-Toba, in the play Gohiiki Kanjincho performed at the Nakamura Theatre, 1/11/1773. This scene shows Nakazo as the evil prince about to be confronted by Kumai no Taro ( in this case Ichikawa Danjuro V ) in the Shibaraku scene. Ex collection H.R.W. Kuhne, sold Sothebys 11/6/1993, lot 62. Another impression from the Clarence Buckingham collection, ex Frank Lloyd Wright, is illustrated in the Actor’s Image, Clark & Ueda, 1994, no. 66, p. 196.


Very good impression, colour and condition. An exceptional hosoban with the motif on the white court robes blind printed: An extremely rare effect in the hosoban format. Signed Shunsho ga.


Status: Sold

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Katsukawa SHUNSHO (1726-1792)




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The actor Nakamura Tomijuro I in an unidentified female role holding a biwa (a lute-like musical instrument) underarm. Surprisingly not listed in The Life And Works Of Katsukawa Shunsho, Frederick William Gookin, which is the most comprehensive overview. Published c 1775/6.

Fine impression and colour. One small repaired wormhole, otherwise exceptional condition. Signed Shunsho ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A bust portrait of the onnagata actor Nakamura Matsue III as the courtesan Akoya. A part he played at the Nakamura theatre, 9/1814, in the play Dannoura kabuto gunki, Battle Tale of Dannoura.” The story tells of Akoya’s loyalty to her Heike lover Taira no Kagekiyo when on being captured she convinces Kagekiyo’s enemies of her ignorance of his hiding place aided by her exquisite music. From Kunisada’s finest set: Oatari kyoden no uchi, “Great Performances.” A set of seven prints of celebrated roles of the previous eight years selected from the Oatari kyoden, “Big Hits.” Sumptuously produced with mica grounds which had not been used for twenty years. Exceedingly rare, on a par with many Sharaku prints. Published by Fukusendo, c 1815. Another impression is in the Museo d’Arte Orientale “Edoardo Chiossone,” Genoa ( S1396 ) and a second is in the Ronald Cavaye collection.


Fine impression. Turning of colour towards bottom right, otherwise good colour. Mica good. Slight staining au verso which shows through mica, otherwise good condition. Full size. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Attributed toTorii KIYOTSUNE (Active c1757–1779)


Torii-KIYOTSUNE-1757-to-1779-actors-40


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A quarter-block, 5 x 6 in; 12.5 x 15 cms print showing the actors Segawa Kichiji III ( right ) in an onnagata role ( unread ) and Bando Matataro IV as Harada Rokuro in the play Kono hana yotsugi no hachinoki performed at the Ichimura-za in the 11th month of 1771.


Fine impression with perfect colour. Small binding holes, otherwise fine condition.



Status: Sold

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Attributed to Torii KIYOTSUNE (Active c1757–1779)




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A quarter-block, 5 x 6 in; 12.5 x 15 cms print showing the actors Nakamura Sukegoro II ( right ) as Yamana Sozen and Nakamura Juzo II as Fuwa Banzaemon in the play Fukikaete tsuki mo Yoshiwara performed at the Moita-za in the 11th month of 1771.


Fine impression with perfect colour. Small binding holes, otherwise fine condition.



Status: Sold

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Attributed to Katsukawa SHUNSHO (1726–1792)




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The actor Ichikawa Danjuro V possibly as Moriya no Daijin disguised as Rokuju-rokubu in the play Miya-bashira iwao no butai, performed at the Morita 7/1773. Ex collection Walter von Scheven, 1878 – 1950, and bought by him from Aoyama, Paris in 1929.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Unsigned.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769–1825)




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The centre sheet of a hosoban triptych possibly showing Danjuro VI as Ashikaga Takauji or Prince Takahiro. Ex collection Walter von Scheven, 1878 – 1950, and purchased by him at Altkunst, Berlin in 1929. A fine design.


Fine impression and colour. Very small repaired binding holes, otherwise fine condition. Unsigned.



Status: Sold

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Ippitsusai BUNCHO ( Fl. c. 1765 – 92 )


Ippitsusai-BUNCHO-1765-to-1792-actors36


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A fine full length hosoban portrait of the actor Ichikawa Benzo I in the role of Kuretake in the play Tenjiku Tokubei kokyo no torigashi performed at the Nakamura-za in the 8th month of 1768. A very damaged example is illustrated in Exhibition of Ukiyo-e by Ippitsusai Buncho, Riccar Art Museum, 1978, no. 23.


Very good impression. Background turned, otherwise very good colour. Slight toning, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga.



Status: Sold

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Torii KIYONOBU II (1706-1763)




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A fine urushi-e hosoban showing the actors Sawamura Sojuro I ( above ) and Yamamoto Kiyoshiro I wrestling amongst bales of rice. It is impossible to be certain of the performance as records are scant, but Sojuro is probably playing the role of Sano Genzaemon and Kiyoshiro is probably playing Sano Genta in the play Miyakozome kaoru hachinoki performed at the Nakamura-za in the 11th month of 1739. Kiyoshiro was from the Kamigata region and only arrived in Edo in this month. He left for Osaka the following year. Although he did visit Edo once before this date, he did not act with Sojuro at that time.


Very good impression. The hand-applied colours well retained. Small restorations to the sumi/brass, otherwise good condition. Signed Torii Kiyonobu hitsu.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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The actor Ichikawa Yaozo III as Umeomaru, the loyal retainer of Kan Shojo in the Kuruma biki, “Pulling the Carriage Apart,” scene from the play Sugawara denju tenarai kagami, “ Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy” performed at the Miyako Theatre 7/1796. This is one of the most celebrated scenes in Kabuki, showing the stand-off between the brothers Umeomaru and Sakuramaru and Matsuomaru and Shihei. Of the utmost rarity. Toyokuni also designed prints of Matsuomaru and Shihei ( see this website ) and a triptych of the scene from the same play. One of ukiyoe’s great portraits. Umeomaru ( ume, “plum” ) is shown with the red sugi guma makeup of the impetuous hero, and plum blossom on his costume. Published by Yamaguchiya Tadasuke, 1796.


Fine impression. Mica-ground. Probably trimmed at top or bottom but I cannot, at the moment, locate another impression to compare. Some fading and other minor marks; small edge restoration. The role annotated top left in sumi ( as are other famous designs – possibly by the same collector ). As I cannot locate another impression and it’s unlikely there are more than a few, at best, impressions extant, a certain compromise on condition is necessary. Signed Toyokuni ga.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769–1825)




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The actor Kataoka Nizaemon VII as the evil Minister of the Left Fujiwara Shihei in the Kuruma biki, “Pulling the Carriage Apart,” scene from the play Sugawara denju tenarai kagami, “ Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy” performed at the Miyako Theatre 7/1796. This is one of the most celebrated scenes in Kabuki, showing the stand-off between the brothers Umeomaru and Sakuramaru and Matsuomaru and Shihei. Of the utmost rarity: Another impression illustrated in Ukiyoe Taikei, vol. 9, no. 19 and also used for the cover of the book and slip-case. Toyokuni also designed mica-ground prints of Matsuomaru and Umeomaru ( see this website ) and a triptych of the scene from the same play – all excessively rare. One of ukiyoe’s great portraits. Published by Yamaguchiya Tadasuke, 1796.


Very good impression. The eyes with brass powder applied. Trimmed heavily top and bottom and very slightly at side. Some fading, soil and other minor marks. The role annotated in sumi top left. Other famous designs are known with these inscriptions ( by the same hand ? ). However, given the rarity and that, at best, there can only be a few impressions extant, a certain compromise is necessary. Signed Toyokuni ga.



Status: Sold

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Torii KIYOMITSU (1735-1780)




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A hosoban benizuri-e print in beni, yellow and blue showing the actor Segawa Kikunojo II ( bottom left ) in the role of musume Kagekiyo and Ichimura Uzaemon IX ( top right ) as Osu … possibly Osutoko. “Musume” means “daughter”, while Kagekiyo was the famous general of the Heike clan. However, if Kikunojo were playing Kagekiyo’s daughter then it would be written Kagekiyo musume. ( His daughter was named Hitomaru and she does indeed feature in many plays about him. ) But in this case, it perhaps refers to a female version of Kagekiyo although no information on this is to hand. However, if Kikunojo is playing Kagekiyo’s daughter after all, and it’s just written the other way round for some reason, then it would identify the performance and date nicely: the play would be Soga yawaragi Soga performed at the Ichimura-za in the 1st month of 1767. Published by Nishimura, Eijudo han. Extremely rare. ( Many thanks to Paul Griffith for the elucidation above. )


Fine impression and colour. Slight vertical fold and small expertly restored wormhole near bottom edge. Signed Torii Kiyomitsu ga.


Status: Sold

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