Kuniyoshi 国芳: Iemon and the ghost of Oiwa. Kamiya Iemon; Oiwa no bokon 神谷伊右衛門、お岩のぼうこん

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Iemon and the ghost of Oiwa. Kamiya Iemon; Oiwa no bokon 神谷伊右衛門、お岩のぼうこん
Date: ca. 1848

The pivotal “door transformation scene” from Japan’s most famous ghost story, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan 東海道四谷怪談. We see Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as the “handsome bad man” character  Kamiya Iemon, here brandishing a sword towards the ghost of the the woman he murdered, his wife Oiwa. She has come to life to reproach Iemon for his evil deeds, which included murdering her and his servant Kohei and nailing their bodies to a door before throwing it into the Onbo Canal. Her face is disfigured from the poison that he fed her before she died, and her hair has mostly fallen out. This scene is also famous for the kabuki mechanism that allowed a single actor to play both dead characters. A very scarce design.

Condition: Excellent impression. Very good color and very good/good condition. The pigments in Oiwa’s face have smeared.
Dimensions: ôban (36 x 25 cm)
Publisher: Otaya Takichi
Literature: Another work from the series is in the collection of the British Museum 2008,3037.21330. This design in the collection of the Edo Tokyo Museum and the Waseda University Theater museum. 
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga