Actor Iwai Hanshiro V with a Courtesan

Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I 歌川豊国 (1769-1825)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1806, 6th month
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 37.4 x 25.7 cm (14 3/4 x 10 1/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Anne van Biema collection, courtesan, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan, kabuki, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

Fans of kabuki were intensely interested in the lives of stage stars. Here, in an offstage setting, the actor Iwai Hanshiro V enjoys the company of a high-ranking courtesan. His graceful, feminine attire and coiffure reflect the practice of some onnagata to remain in female garments in their offstage lives. The landscape scene on the hanging fan above, like others in the series to which this print belongs, refers to the theme of the Six Tama (Jewel) Rivers, a subject derived from poetry. In Japanese prints, women are often paired with each of the six rivers in a comparison of their beauty. The actor and the courtesan in each print of this series may thus represent the "jewels" of Edo.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 30, pp. 112-113.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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