The Actors Nakamura Tomijuro I and Nakamura Noshio I

Artist: Ippitsusai Bunchō 一筆斎文調 (active ca. 1755-1790)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, late 18th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 31.6 x 14.6 cm (12 7/16 x 5 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of the family of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock Print

actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hosoban, Japan, kabuki, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

The famous Kabuki actor Nakamura Tomijuro I (1719-1816) sits in the foreground, holding a banner with a painting of a horse. Behind him is his son-in-law, Nakamura Noshio I (1752-1777), who holds a courtier's hat and robe. Both actors were famous for playing female (onnagata) roles, as in this scene, and Tomijuro was a son of the preeminent onnagata Yoshizawa Ayame I (1673-1729). After establishing their reputations in their native Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka) region, Noshio and Tomijuro traveled in 1770 to Edo and acted together there. Buncho's prints make effective use of the relatively limited palette of early full-color printing and also of the narrow hosoban format that was prevalent at the time. The introspective expression of his subjects is unusual and reflects his personal approach to print design.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 61c, p. 81.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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