Toyohara Kunichika, ‘The Mirror of Backstage in Full Bloom: Kawarazaki Gonjuro I’, 1865, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Kunichika ga with artist's Toshidama seal, publisher's seal Bun, Tsujibun han, Yokoyamacho Sanchome (Tsujiokaya Bunsuke of Kinshodo), carver's seal Asakura Hori Man, censor's seal Ushi-roku, aratame (year of the Ox [1865], 6th month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 3/4 in., 35.8 by 24.8 cm

The handsome Kawarazaki Gonjuro I (1838-1903) in his backstage dressing room is reflected in a rectangular mirror framed in black and gold lacquer and draped with cotton handling cloths. The mirror is surrounded by brushes, cosmetics and combs, and in the background, calligraphy banners decorated the walls. He wears a white and indigo cotton yukata which is decorated with a stylized ebi (prawn), a reference to Ebizo, one of the stage names utilized by some of the illustrious actors in his family lineage. Gonjuro I was the fifth son of Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859), who was arguably the most important kabuki actor of the late Edo Period (1600-1868). But his was his son, Gonjuro I (who became Ichikawa Danjuro in 1874), who is largely credited with adapted and revitalizing kabuki during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and into the modern era.

Series: The Mirror of Backstage in Full Bloom

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Tsujiokaya Bunsuke of Kinshodo

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)
Tokyo Metropolitan Library, acquisition no. 577-C013-01
Waseda University Theatre Museum, acquisition no. 007-259

About Toyohara Kunichika