Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Series: From Contest of Roles : Mirror of “Tenarai Kagami” (hanakurabe tenarai kyô no uchi)
One of ten portraits from Kabuki Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy (Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami). Matsuô-maru is one of triplet retainers named for Sugawara’s favorite trees: the pine, matsu: “Matsuô-maru”, cherry, sakura: “Sakura-maru”, and the plum, ume: “Umeô-maru”. Matsuô-maru is the retainer of Fujiwara Shihei, Minister of the Left, who was supposed to share power at the imperial court with Sugawara, Minister of the Right, known as Kan Shôjô, to whom his brother Sakura-maru serves as the retainer. Therefore the two brothers are rivals in the play. Matsuô-maru is portrayed as a villain but at the end he sacrifices his son, Kotarô as a substitute for Kan Shûsai, who was to beheaded by the order of Shihei. After this Matsuô-maru declares that he will no longer serve Shihei. The costume of Matsuô-maru is a gorgeous design of pines; the facial kumadori in red.
Publisher: Kogaya Katsugorô
Seal: censor’s seals: Hama Yahei and Magomi Kangeyû; Date seal: 9th month of Rat year (1852), carver’s seal: hori Kokai
Signature: Toyokuni ga