Kunisada: Extortion Scene from the Kabuki Play Izayoi Seishin

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864)
Title: Extortion Scene from the Kabuki Play Izayoi Seishin
Date: 1859

Scene from the third act of the kabuki play known as “Izayoi Seishin.” At left, standing outside the entrance is the shifty-looking  character Seikichi (aka Seishin), who has sent in his wife Osayo to visit the wife of Shobei, Ofuji, to extort money. Oni-azami Seikichi, played by Ichikawa Kodanji IV, looks furtively inside the house. He is wearing an obviously tattered kimono with holes (which indicates his poverty) and a travelling hat. Next to him we see a large barrel with the large character mizu (water) for use in case of fire. In the middle sheet we see Seikichi´s wife Osayo (”Seikichi nyóbo O-sayo”) played by Iwai Kumejiro. Osayo has taken off her hat and asks Ofuji for some money. Once a proud courtesan, here she wears clothing that is also obviously ripped and hair that is unkempt. On the right sheet we see of Ofuji (Shobei nyobo O-fuji) reaching her right hand into her obi sash, where money generally is tucked away. She has her long smoking pipe in her left hand. In the background the sliding doors of the cupboard of chigaidana shelves feature a landscape which bears the signature of “Kunihisa-hitsu.“ 

This triptych depicts the scene from the third act “The House of Hakuren at Yukinoshita (Yukinoshita Hakuren hon-taku)“ from the Kabuki drama, “Kosode Soga agami no ironui“, which was written by Kawatake Mokuami for the actor Ichikawa Kodanji VIII.  This drama is commonly known as “Izayoi Seishin,“after the names of the two main characters:  the courtesan Izayoi (later O-sayo)  and Seishin. The plot involves an illicit love affair and a failed love suicide.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Unbacked and untrimmed.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (37 x 75 cm)
Signature: Toyokuni ga