Kunisada: Sawamura Tanosuke Backstage with Makeup Artist (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864)
Title: Sawamura Tanosuke Backstage with Makeup Artist
Date: 1861

The actor Sawamura Tanosuke III is shown backstage, pipe in hand, prepping for their onstage female role. We see the the makeup assistant applying white powder to the actor’s neck with a large, blindprinted white brush, the assistant’s left hand in a gesture that suggest that he is speaking, while Tanosuke remains silent and rather contemplative. We see on the wall what may be a type of promotion for a specific play. Hanging on the wall is the actor’s name; perhaps a nameplate for a dressing area? Even backstage his manner is feminine. From an interesting series of prints showing actors backstage preparing for their onstage roles. This actor is especially interesting, as even after having limbs amputated in 1865, he remained active in the theater, often in roles that took into account his disability. In 1862 he fell from an elevated area during a performance, and then suffered from worsening gangrene. His leg was amputated by James Curtis Hepburn, a western missionary doctor, and later Tanosuke returned to the stage, apparently wearing a western prosthesis. He later lost his other lower leg to the same condition. The Portland Art Museum has a print that shows the actor in 1870 in character as a disabled woman using a hand-levered cart for mobility.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Some pigment transfer at bottom, and backing remnants verso. Two tiny wormholes in the upper right corner. 

Dimensions: ôban (36 x 24.2 cm)
Signature: --Kiyo Toyokuni ga
Publisher:Tsujiya Yasubei