Kunisada: Goemon Flying Through the Air on a Magical Scroll

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Title: Nakamura Shikan IV as Chigo Sutewakamaru Riding a Magical Scroll
Series: Competition of the art of magic done by Toyokuni 豊国揮毫奇術競 (Toyokuni kigô kijutsu arasoi)
Date: 1864

Nakamura Shikan IV as Chigo Sutewakamaru, who later transforms into Ishikawa Goemon via various kabuki storytelling contortions. Here as Goemon he comfortably rides an unfurled magical scroll and looks to his right with the confidence that he cannot be pursued while aloft. He pushes one sleeve up and carries a large wicker basket on his back. His red outer garment has been pulled down, and his shirt features images of scrolls.  This may be from the play “Kinmon Gosan no Kiri”, in which case there is the body of Soemon, his father-in-law, packed away in the basket. During the stage performance Goemon emerges through an opening in the hanamichi and then soars above the heads of the audience, which must have been unforgettably exciting.

First edition works from this series, as here, are prized for their luxurious printing. There is blindprinting on the white sleeve, lacquer-imitating black on his belt and a second pattern overprinted with a a barely visible shine on his red garment as well as extensive mica in the sky.

Dimensions: ôban (37.3 x 25 cm)
Publisher: Hirano-ya
Signature: nanajû hachi sai Toyokuni hitsu (brush of Toyokuni at 78 years old)