Utagawa Toyokuni III (Utagawa Kunisada), ‘Mirrors for Collage Pictures in the Modern Style: Kanawa Goro Imakuni’, 1859, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Toyokuni ga within the artist's Toshidama cartouche, carver's mark hori Take (Yokokawa Takejiro), publisher's seal Shorindo (Fujiokaya Keijiro of Shorindo), with combined censor and date seal Hitsuji-ni, aratame (year of the goat [1859], 2nd month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 9 3/4 in., 36.4 by 24.8 cm

This print is from a series featuring actors viewed as a reflection from a black and gold framed bronze mirror accompanied by a poem in their own hand. The actor Kataoka Nizaemon VIII (1810-1863) is in the role of Kanawa Goro Imakuni from the play Imoseyama Onna Teikin (Imoseyama, an Example of Womanly Virtue). Imakuni, a loyal retainer, gets involved in palace intruige between his lord Fujiwara Kamatari and the magical daimyo Soga Iruka. His task is to assassinate Iruka at a party while disguised as a fisherman. Despite surviving multiple attempts on his own life, he manages to make a paste made from the hoof of a deer and the blood of a jealous woman, with which he breaks Iruka's magic and kills the evil lord.

Series: Mirrors for Collage Pictures in the Modern Style

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Fujiokaya Keijiro of Shorindo

Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 230-237
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), from the Bigelow Collection, accession nos. 11.40965 and RES.11.5764.2

About Utagawa Toyokuni III (Utagawa Kunisada)