Kuniyoshi 國芳: Bloodied Torii Matasuke Cutting his Own Throat

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Title: Nakamura Utaemon IV as Torii Matasuke 鳥居又助
Date: 1849

Nakamura Utaemon IV as Torii Matasuke 鳥居又助. He is pinning down another man while holding a bloody knife to his throat, as he appears to be in the process of ending his own suffering. He also has a sharpened bamboo stick jutting out from his shoulder, a wound that appears fatal. His grey visage indicates that he has not long to live. This scene may be from the play O megumi ni uruo Iwafuji (恵閏初夏藤) also read ‘Megumi ni uruou Iwafuji’ by Sakurada Jisuke III, which was performed at the Ichimura-za from the 14th of the 4th month of 1849 (Kaei 2). During this period in Edo there was a surge in popularity of plays that featured thieves and scoundrels as antiheroes. The MFA and the Kuniyoshi Project both have this work listed as a single sheet print.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Untrimmed and unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban (37.2 x 25.4 cm)
Publisher: Iba-ya Kyubei
Literature: See MFA f https://collections.mfa.org/objects/463707
Seal: Yoshikiri
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga