signed Shunsen ga with artist's seal Shun, and artist's approval seal at lower left corner, Natori. Publisher's mark embossed at right of composition, Watanabe-ko (Watanabe Shozaburo), from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1928.
dai oban tate-e 40.2 by 27.2 cm
The actor Bando Jusaburo (1886-1954) is in the role of the sumo wrestler Mizuhiki Seigoro from the play Megumi no Kenka (Fight of Megumi). The play, which premiered in March 1890, related the events of a spectacular brawl that occurred in 1805. In the drama, groups of sumotori (sumo wrestlers) and tobi (firefighters) become offended by each others drunken and swaggering attitudes. The conflict is sparked at a geisha restaurant when a sumotori celebrating with the popular wrestler Yiotsuguruma Daihachi loses his balance and falls through a paper partition, landing on a tobi from the prestigious Megumi group of firefighters. Though a fight is avoided, the firefighters, led by their boss Tatsugoro, vow to get revenge. After a series of missed opportunities, with tensions rising high between the sumotori and the tobi organizations, the two groups meet in the sumo arena after hours. The fight scene which ensues features a juxtaposition of the daring, acrobatic moves of the firefighters against the sheer brawn of the wrestlers.
Jusaburo is holding a blue porcelain cup and wears a black haori (short outer-coat) with a crisp white mon on his broad shoulder. The white tassels that hold his haori closed at the lower right are printed in katazuri (embossing).
Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art
Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, p. 48, pl. 41
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 35, cat. no. 33
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 115
Carolyn M. Putney, et. al., Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, Toledo Museum of Art, 2013, p. 200, cat. no. 166
Honolulu Museum of Art (honolulumuseum.org), object no. 06282
National Gallery of Australia (nga.gov.au), accession no. NGA.98.163