Kunisada: Portrait of Danjuro IX with Umbrella 花川戸助六

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864)
Title:  Hanakawado Sukeroku, Edo zakura  (Hanakawado Sukeroku, Edo Cherry Blossom) 花川戸助六

Series: Tosei mitate sanju-rokkasen 當盛見立 三十六花撰 (Contemporary Kabuki Actors Likened to Thirty-Six Flowers (Immortals of Poetry))

Date: 1861, 9th Month

Hanakawado Sukeroku, Edo zakura  (Hanakawado Sukeroku, Edo Cherry Blossom). Kawarazaki Gonjuro I is another name for Ichikawa Danjuro IX 九代目市川団十郎. Here he is in the Sukeroku 助六 role. The play is  'Sukeroku, yukari no Edo zakura (Sukeroku, the Flower of Edo)'.

Sukeroku plays an otokodate, a chivalrous commoner, and here he wears the knotted purple headband that is tied to this character. He also holds an umbrella and carries a shakuhachi flute and his kimono bears a peony crest.  The play is modeled after the story of one of the Soga Brothers and is set in the Yoshiwara pleasure district.

In this series actors are compared both with 36 flowers as well as the 36 Immortal Poets.  The background is a rather unusual shade of deep-blue; later editions have different colors, including green, red and light blue. It would seem that this is the earlier edition, as we might surmise that this pigment was more expensive, and here it has a very dramatic effect of setting off the actor’s expression. With beautiful, shiny black on the actor’s kimono, probably the result of shomenzuri, polishing the surface for a flat shine. This would seem to be the deluxe edition of this design.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Minor trimming at left. Printed on heavy, deluxe paper, with mica highlights against the unusual blue background--this must be a deluxe edition of this design.

Dimensions: ôban (36.3 x 24.5 cm)
Publisher:  Hiranoya Shinzo 

Reference: See MFA Boston, British Museum collections.

Signature: Toyokuni ga