Kunichika: Bandō Hikozaburō as Nyūunryū and Waterfall

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Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: Bandō Hikozaburō as Nyūunryū and Waterfall
Date: 1875
Series: Mitate Suikoden Torodai (Mitate Suikoden with Waterfalls)

The actor Bando Hikozaburo in a fantasy kabuki role as the character Nyûunryû. He looks up towards the cliffs, gathering his patterned robe about his shoulders. We glimpse his undershirt, which features a tattoo-mimicking design of a dragon amidst clouds. Prints that showed imaginary portraits seemed quite popular in the late 19th century–perhaps akin to today’s fantasy football. There are bright red flowers growing on the cliff rock behind him. His tattoo-mimicking garment features dragons. Kabuki actors must have had special garments that were tight-fitting to mimic tattoos when the role called for it. The Met Museum has translated the title of this series as: “Imaginary portrait, Shuihuzhuan of Stage: Tōryūdai”.  

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Some repaired wormage and some smudged pigment in pruple robe.
Dimensions: ôban (35.2 x 25 cm)
Signature: Toyohara Kunichika hitsu (with toshidama seal)

Reference: See the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an inferior example.