Natori Shunsen, ‘Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Nakamura Ganjiro I as Sakata Tojuro’, ca. 1925, Scholten Japanese Art

a frontal portrait of the actor in teal green outer-robe with a fragment of deep red fabric decorated with a plum blossom motif in the foreground; the orange-brown background is decorated with a pattern of maples on stylized water; signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shunsen, with artist's approval seal Natori at lower left corner, and publisher's seal Watanabe ko (Watanabe Shozaburo) at middle right, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1925
dai oban tate-e 15 5/8 by 10 7/8 in., 39.6 by 27.6 cm
This is the sixth design from the series Creative Prints, Collected Portraits by Shunsen published by Watanabe Shozaburo and issued from 1925 through 1928.
The actor Nakamura Ganjiro is in the role of another actor, Sakata Tojuro I, from a modern play by Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948), Tojuro no koi (Tojuro's love), which premiered in Osaka at the Naniwaza in October 1919. The play was based on a real Genroku period (1688-1704) actor, Sakata Tojuro (1646-1709), a beloved performer who is credited with helping to establish kabuki in the Kansai region and developing the wagoto (soft) style associated tragic romances. In this modern play, Tojuro seeks inspiration for a new role in which he portrays a man seducing a married woman. He selects his mark and pursues a restaurant owner, Okaji, without any concern for the consequences of his acting excercise.

Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo

Stage Idols: Japanese Kabuki Theater, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, February 2008 - January 2009

Yamaguchi Keizoro, Natori Shunsen (exhibition catalogue), Kushigata, 1991, no. 14
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 23, cat. no. 7
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 73
Carolyn M. Putney, Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, Toledo Museum of Art, 2013, p. 183, cat. 141
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015, p. 89, cat. no. 37

About Natori Shunsen