Katsukawa Shunsho / The actor Segawa Kikunojo III in private life, standing in a snow-covered garden / c. 1775Katsukawa Shunsho
The actor Segawa Kikunojo III in private life, standing in a snow-covered garden
c. 1775

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Creator Name: Katsukawa, Shunsho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1726-1792 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Katsukawa Shunsho
Title: The actor Segawa Kikunojo III in private life, standing in a snow-covered garden
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1770
Creation End Date: 1780
Creation Date: c. 1775
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Large hosoban; 38.5 x 17.5 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Shunsho ga
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1949.39
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection.
Rights: http://www.artic.edu/aic/rights/main.rights.html
Context: This special portrait of Segawa Kikunojo III must have been issued shortly after the young actor succeeded to this prestigious name at the opening-of-the-season (kaomise) performance in the eleventh month of 1774, in his mid-twenties and doubtless at theheight of his beauty. As Ichiyama Tonisaburo, he had arrived from Osaka the previous year with sufficiently high reputation to be named by Kikunojo II as his successor when the latter lay dying in the third month of 1773. Kikunojo III danced 'Musume Dojo-ji' (The Maiden at Dojo-ji), one of Kikunojo II's best-loved roles, in memory of his predecessor, and quickly won over Edo fans with his good looks and charm in female roles. Together with Nakamura Tomijuro I, he would dominate 'young woman' (waka-onnagata) roles during the 1770s and '80s and on into the nineteenth century.The actor is shown not in costume but in the height of offstage good taste, elegantly posed in a snowy garden. By showing Kikunojo's hand tucked inside his long hanging sleeve and raised in a gesture of aesthetic delight, Shunsho simultaneously reveals the beauty of the garment and calls our attention to the beauty of the scene. In his other hand Kikunojo III holds a furled umbrella. Scattered chrysanthemum blossoms decorate the skirt of the pale blue kimono, and the actor's formal crest (jomon), a bundle of floss silk (yuiwata), is just visible at the breast. The fashionably long purple jacket (haori) has a pattern of decorated New Year balls and also bears Kikunojo III's informal crest (kaemon) of a chrysanthemum-and-butterfly (kiku-cho). About this time a new hair style called lantern locks (torobin), in which the side locks were combed outward to resemble the silhouette of a paper lantern, had just become the rage. Kikunojo III, whose stage persona made him a leader of female fashion, was of course to be seen in the latest style.The larger-than-normal size of this hosoban print, together with the careful cutting and printing, suggests that it might have been specially commissioned by some wealthy theater patron keen to promote the career of the attractive young man. Kikunojo II and III are both known, in fact, to have enjoyed the special support and patronage of Lord Matsudaira Munenobu (Nankai; 1729-1782), daimyo of Matsue. The possibility that it was a special commission is further borne out by the haiku poem printed above the figure, which was composed by Kikunojo III and signed with his pen name, Roko: Hatsuyuki ya (The first snow!) monomi e hakobu (Move the foot-warmer) okigotatsu (To the balcony with the view.)A similar print is known, showing Yamashita Kinsaku II holding a fan and with a poem referring to summer planting. Suzuki Juzo suggests that these two may originally have formed half of a set of four portraits of popular female impersonators in settings relating to the four seasons.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1949.39
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998

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