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Archive: Shunshi

Description:
Onoe Tamizô II (二代目尾上多見蔵) as yakko (servant) Hyakudohei (奴百平) in an unidentified play and theater, Osaka
Signature:
Gatôken Shunshi ga (画登軒春芝画)
Seals:
No artist seal
Publisher:
Publisher: Toshin 利新 (Toshikuraya Shinbei: 利倉や新兵衛)
Date:
c. 1826-1828
Format:
(H x W)
Oban nishiki-e
37.1 x 26.1 cm
Impression:
Excellent
Condition:
Excellent color and condition, thick paper unbacked; slight album glue residue along right edge verso
Price (USD/¥):
SOLD

Inquiry (Ref #SUS07)

Comments:
Background

Although the actor's name and role are inscribed on this print, the play, theater, and date remain unconfirmed. One play we have seen suggested is Osanago no Katakiuchi (A child's revenge: 幼稚子敵討) performed at the Onishi Theater in 3 or 4/1826, but so far we have not been able to verify the role and actor in that particular production. The suggested range of years (1826-1828) derives from the style of printing and the appearance of the actor Tamizô.

Onoe Tamizô II (1799-1886; 二代目尾上多見蔵), the son of a theater hairdresser, was a skillful dancer and versatile actor. He had a long and successful career. When he was barely 20 years of age, Tamizô began an apprenticeship with Onoe Kikugorô III (1784-1849; 三代目 尾上菊五郎) in Edo for three years, then returned to Osaka in 1823. (He had several sojourns in Edo thereafter.) In Osaka he was championed by a coterie of artists in Osaka in the mid 1820s, led by Gatôken (Toryûken) Shunshi, who specialized in depicting him in many performances. Early on he worked mostly the middle theaters in Osaka, but by 1833, he was also appearing in the larger theaters, such as the Kado and Naka. Tamizô tended to be a flamboyant showman and was short, had become overweight, and was reputedly illiterate. (His weight problem is evident in portraits issued later in his career, quite unlike the early-career print being offered here.) Nevertheless, Tamizô was a notable actor on the Osaka stage for more than 60 years.

Design

Gatôken Shunshi (画登軒春芝) was a student of Shunkôsai Hokushû and the apparent leader of a subgroup of followers that included at least two other artists signing with the name "Shunshi" — Seiyôsai Shunshi (青陽斎春子) and Gakôken Shunshi (画好軒春枝), who used different ideograms for "shi."

This is the same impression (former Haber collection) illustrated in Schwaab, Osaka Prints (see OSP below).

References: OSP, p. 128, no. 110; TWOP, no. 185 (for a related print design, indicating 4/1826, with same role and actor, but without a play title)