Scene from the kabuki play, Nikki Danjo

Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-1889)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, 1868-1831
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 26.7 x 38.8 cm (10 1/2 x 15 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Drawing

Album leaf

actor, fan, Japan, kabuki, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), theater, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

Lively sketches by the nineteenth-century artist Kawanabe Kyosai reveal the variety of traditional Chinese and Japanese legends that were popular in the Meiji era, when Japan was rapidly modernizing along Western technological models.

In an unusual view of a kabuki stage facing the enthralled audience, an actor performs an onstage transformation from human to animal form with the aid of smoke. According to the story, in a plot to thwart the rightful heir, Nikki Danjo steals a scroll that contains the will of the daimyo who ruled Sendai. The villain attempts to escape by transforming himself into a giant rat, but he is finally captured by a warrior who throws an iron battle fan, breaking the spell.

See also F1975.29.5 and F1975.29.8.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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