Actor Bando Mitsugoro III as Ko no Moronao

Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I 歌川豊国 (1769-1825)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1814, 4th month
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 38 x 26 cm (14 15/16 x 10 1/4 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, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan, kabuki, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

Ko no Moronao is the villain who represents the historical character Kira Yoshinaka (1641-1703) in the kabuki plays based on the story of the forty-seven ronin (masterless samurai) who avenged their master's death by killing Kira in a surprise night attack. The great actor Bando Mitsugoro III as Moronao wears robes with long, trailing trousers that were worn by warriors for formal occasions, such as ceremonies in the shogun's castle. The voluminous form of the costume leads the viewer toward the face of the actor, which is frozen in an expression that projects his anger and arrogance. His bulging eyes, highlighted by red makeup, are characteristic of mie, frozen poses featuring exaggerated expressions that are struck at critical dramatic moments.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 32, pp. 116-117.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.