Toyohara Kunichika, ‘Mirror Sketches from the Backstage Dressing Room: [Kawarazaki] Mimasu’, ca. 1868-69, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Kunichika hitsu with red Toshidama seal, publisher's seal (partially trimmed) Tsunoi (Tsunokuniya Isaburo), ca. 1868-69

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 1/2 in., 36 by 24 cm

An amusing portrait of the reflection of Kawarazaki Mimasu (Ichikawa Danjuro IX, 1838-1903) in a glass mirror waiting for an assistant (unseen but for his hands) to lower a wig onto his head. The poem in the square-shaped cartouche is signed Mimasu (or Sansho), which is the name of the mon for the Ichikawa family and was also used as a haimyo (poetry name) by actors in the Danjuro line. Danjuro IX was a star in the Meiji Period and largely credited, along with his contemporaries, Onoe Kikugoro V (Onoe Baiko V, 1844-1903) and Ichikawa Sadanji I (1842-1904), with adapting and revitalizing kabuki for the modern era.

Series: Mirror Sketches from the Backstage Dressing Room

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Tsunokuniya Isaburo

Amy Reigle Newland, Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1999, p. 91, cat. no. 61 (for another print from this scarce series)
Waseda University Theatre Museum, acquisition no. 007-1315

About Toyohara Kunichika