the actor dessed as General Takechi Mitsuhide in straw hat and cape, mica ground; with artist's seal Shunsen, and artist's approval seal Natori at lower left, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, 1926
dai oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 7/8 in., 39.4 by 27.5 cm
This is the seventeenth design from the series Creative Prints, Collected Portraits by Shunsen published by Watanabe Shozaburo and issued from 1925 through 1928.
The actor Ichikawa Chusa VII (1860-1936) is in the role of Taju no Takechi Mitsuhide from the play Ehon Taikoki (The Picture Book of the Taiko), based on a book of the same name written by Okada Tamayama between 1797-1802. It was originally adapted to a puppet play in 1799, and staged as a kabuki play the following year in Osaka. Due to the Edo Period's censors' prohibitions, the character's name was changed from Akechi to Takechi.
The play tells the story of the historical Akechi Mitsuhide (1528-1582), a traitor whose rebellion caused the death of Lord Oda Nobunaga in 1582. Notably, Ehon Taikoki approached the history of the rebellion through the lens of Mitsuhide's family drama. When he declared his intent to rebel, his mother Satsuki could not forgive him and left the family mansion to retire to a small cottage. The cottage becomes the site of conflict, however, as Mitsuhide and his sworn enemy Mashiba Hisayoshi converge there, Mitsuhide in an attempt to bring his mother back to his side and Hisayoshi in the hopes of catching Mitsuhide by surprise. They confront each other and fight briefly before parting ways, promising to meet one another on the battlefield.
Series: Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen
Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art
Stage Idols: Japanese Kabuki Theater, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, February 2008 - January 2009
Aubrey S. & Giovanna M. Halford, The Kabuki Handbook, 1956, pp. 22-25 (re: play)
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Natori Shunsen (exhibition catalogue), Kushigata, 1991, no. 24
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 30, cat. no. 18
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 91
Carolyn M. Putney, et. al., Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, Toledo Museum of Art, 2013, p. 191, cat. no. 151
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015, p. 93, cat. no. 41