The actor Ichikawa Danjuro IV in a 'Shibaraku' role, possibly from the play Ima o Sakari Suehiro Genji (The Genji Clan Now at Its Zenith)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1768
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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 Ichikawa Danjuro IV in a 'Shibaraku' role, possibly from the play Ima o Sakari Suehiro Genji (The Genji Clan Now at Its Zenith)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1768
Creation End Date: 1768
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1768
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Oban; 38.3 x 26.0 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Katsukawa Shunsho gaARTIST'S SEAL: Hayashi in jar-shaped outline
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1925.2365
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: With repeated cries of 'Shibaraku!' (Stop right there!) the hero stalks down the hanamichi walkway toward the stage, where murder is about to be done. He is wearing an exaggerated persimmon red costume, consisting of a suo jacket with huge, square sleeves, very long trousers (naga-bakama), and folded white paper 'strength' adornments extending from his head. Much of the hero's time is spent declaiming (tsurane) and posturing (mie) on the hanamichi; when he finally steps onto the stage, all wrongs are forthwith righted. A moment later, attacked by a swarm of armed dastards, he unsheathes his massive sword and the villains' heads roll. From the early eighteenth century it became obligatory to include the 'Shibaraku' scene in all opening-of-the-season (kaomise) productions, somehow weaving it into the plot of whatever play was being performed.The great revolution that Shunsho brought about in actor prints was to make them into portraiture: the actors were now recognizable in prints by their actual facial features or, more precisely, by their actual facial features as interpreted by Shunsho. In this respect it is interesting to note the subtle distinctions Shunsho conveys between the faces of Danjuro IV and V, father and son, both blessed as they were with the pronounced Ichikawa nose and both having small, closely spaced eyes. The greater age of the senior Danjuro is clearly signified in this print by a certain heaviness to the jowl, emphasized by several closely spaced wrinkles or folds of skin. Like contemporary Western designers of coins and medals, Shunsho had to find a way to allude to the monarch's advancing years without detracting from the royal dignity.Given that this is a portrait of Danjuro IV, and given the form of the signature and the artist'sseal, it has been suggested that the print relates to a 'Shibaraku' scene forming part of the play Ima o Sakari Suehiro Genji, performed at the Nakamura Theater in the eleventh month of 1768. Alternatively the portrait may have been intended as some form of memorial, perhaps of the actor's last performance of the 'Shibaraku' role before his son succeeded to the title Danjuro V in the eleventh month of 1770. Perhaps the print was designed in the unusually large oban size to accommodate the voluminous sleeves and naga-bakama trousers of the 'Shibaraku' costume, which are displayed to the full by Danjuro IV's threatening pose. It is pertinent to note that Harunobu also began to use the larger oban format at about this time, 1769-1770.The print bears the seal of the publisher, Maruya Jimpachi (which appears on other works by Shunsho from this period). There is no question, therefore, of the design being a private commission for limited circulation; it must have enjoyed wide public sale. At present, however,only two impressions are known to have survived - a paucity which highlights the heavy attrition rate of eighteenth-century prints. The Chicago impression is not in the best of condition, with a crease down the middle, repairs, toning of the paper, and fading in the blue-and-red areas of the under-costume and makeup.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1925.2365
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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