Toyohara Kunichika, ‘The Mirror of Backstage in Full Bloom: Bando Hikosaburo V’, 1865, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Kunichika ga with Toshidama seal; with publisher's seal, Bun, Tsujibun han, Yokoyamacho Sanchome (Tsujiokaya Bunsuke), block carver's seal Asakura Hori Man, and censor's date seal Usha-roku aratame (year of the ox [1865], sixth month, examined), 1865

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 5/8 in., 35.9 by 24.3 cm

Bando Hikosaburo V (1832-77) in his backstage dressing room is seen in the reflection of a rectangular bronze mirror with black and gold lacquer frame and several tie-dyed handling cloths draped around the edges. He wears a blue and indigo dyed cotton yukata, and regards himself with a notably serious expression with his arms crossed over his chest and his hands tucked inside the sleeves. His dressing table holds containers of cosmetics and brushes, and hanging against the wood wall in the background are banners decorated with calligraphy and an extension of wavy black hair. Hikosaburo V was a major kabuki actor in the mid-19th century who could play virtually any type of role or gender whose talent was often compared to that of his rival, Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-1899).

Series: The Mirror of Backstage in Full Bloom

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Tsujiokaya Bunsuke

Amy Reigle Newland, Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika, 1999, p. 79, cat. no. 45 (for another print in this series) Waseda University Theatre Museum, acquisition no. 007-267 and 120-0255

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