Kunisada: We Brigade, Fifth Group; Ichikawa Danzo VI as the doomed Taira Tomomori with Anchor.

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Title: We Brigade, Fifth Group, Akabane: Actor Ichikawa Danzô VI as Taira Tomomori
Series: Edo no hana meisho-e (Flowers of Edo and Views of Famous Places)江戸の花名勝会

Date: 1863

Lower right we see Ichikawa Danzô VI as the doomed Taira Tomomori at the battle of Dan-no-ura, where he ties an anchor to himself and jumps into the sea rather than be captured and killed by the enemy. Upper left we see a charming hagoita paddle with an actor’s visage as well as the shuttlecock for this traditional new year’s game. 

The term “Flowers of Edo” (Edo no hana) here refers to the terrible and common occurrence of fires, for which there were many fire brigades active throughout the city. The title panel shows the lanterns and identifying standard (matoi) for the brigade of firefighters (hikeshi) assigned to this district.  The title gives the name or number of a brigade, its group, and its district, followed by the kabuki scene chosen to match it. There is a lot going on in each design, as in the upper right are the standards and lanterns for specific fire brigades, and on the upper left are usually magic lantern slides. Then there are one or two designs that comprise the lower portion, with Kunisada designing the actor portrait and various (21! in total for the series) other artists designing the landscape scenes. Other artists who participated in this design: Hasegawa Settei (Japanese, 1813 – 1882) and Kakuju-jo (Japanese, active 1860s)

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. 
Dimensions: ôban (35.1 x 24.2 cm)
Publisher: Katôya Iwazoô (Seibei)
Literature: See MFA website and FAMSF, Waseda University websites. A reference book has been privately published by Simon Henry that examines this entire series.
Signature: Toyokuni ga