Natori Shunsen, ‘Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Otani Tomoemon VI as Sugawara no Michizane’, ca. 1927, Scholten Japanese Art

a bust-portrait of the actor wearing a deep aubergine-colored choken (robe worn by high-ranking noblemen) decorated with sylized plum blossoms; signed Shunsen with artist's seal Natori, publisher's seal Watanabe ko (Watanabe Shozaburo) at middle left edge, artist's approval seal, Natori, at lower left corner, from an edition limited to 150 impressions, ca. 1927
dai oban tate-e 40.4 by 27.2 cm
The actor Otani Tomoemon VI (1886-1943) is in the role of Sugawara no Michizane from the play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara's Secrets of Calligraphy). The play is based on the life of the historical Sugawara Michizane (845-903), a famous statesman and poet who was exiled by the Emperor Daigo as a result of manipulations by Michizane's rival, Fujiwara Tokihira. Originally staged as a puppet play in Osaka in 1746, the first kabuki production was was performed in Kyoto one month later, and at two theaters in Edo the following year.

Series: Creative Prints, Collected Portraits of Shunsen: Actor Otani Tomoemon VI as Sugawara no Michizane

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo

Yamaguchi Keizoro, Natori Shunsen (exhibition catalogue), Kushigata, 1991, no. 29
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 30, cat. no. 21
Amy Reigle Newland, Printed to Perfection: Twentieth-century Japnese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 2004, p. 90, no. 75
Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, p. 156, no. 14.1 (re: play)
Lucie Folan et. al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen's Kabuki Actor Prints, National Gallery of Australia, 2012, p. 65
Carolyn M. Putney, Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, 2013, p. 193, cat. no. 154

About Natori Shunsen