Toyokuni I: Ichikawa Danjurô VII as Daruma (Reserved)

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Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825)
Title: Ichikawa Danjûro, 市川團十郎

Date: ca. 1815

Unique portrait of Ichikawa Danjurô VII as Daruma, his piercing glare strong enough to have seemingly put the hole in the wall that he peers out from.  Daruma was the great Zen Buddhist monk Bodhidarma, who was known for both the intensity of his gaze and the intensity of his meditative practice. He was said to have stared at a wall in seated meditation for nine years, and cutting away his eyelids after dozing off in the seventh year. Here we see the actor’s large, expressive eyes, downward-sloping nose and strong gaze. Daruma is shown with a beard, tufting eyebrows and a hairy chest, signs of “wildness” that must match some aspect of his character. He wears two earring hoops and he cradles a “hossu” brush of dignity, which shoos away insects in addition to any symbolic demons. He wears the orange robe of a monk, here the iron-orange oxidizing mostly to its dark grey form, lending a feeling that is  very appropriate to the scene. The cutaway wall with the jagged edges, and the strong face against the black background make this a memorable portrait. The writing reads: “Ichikawa Danjûro, 市川團十郎 played(?)相勤(?). Series in four pictures 四畫続“. No other example of this work has been found online by this dealer. Very scarce.

Condition: Excellent impression; very good color and condition. Minor hinging remnants, verso.

Dimensions: ôban 37.3 x 26.2 cm
Publisher: Eijudô
Signature: Toyokuni ga