The Eighteen Plays of the Ichikawa Clan: Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as the Medicine Vendor Toraya Tokichi

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1865)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1852, 3rd month
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 36.5 x 25.3 cm (14 3/8 x 9 15/16 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, commerce, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan, kabuki, medicine, oban, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

This print comes from a set of eighteen designs, each portraying an actor of the Danjuro line in a role from "The Kabuki Eighteen" (Kabuki juhachiban), the representative collection of great plays of the family repertoire compiled in 1840 by Ichikawa Danjuro VII. Here his talented son plays the role of an itinerant medicine vendor in a Sukeroku play, one of the specialties of the Ichikawa family. Such roles featured rapid delivery of a witty sales pitch and highlighted the actor's skill in vocal performance. Danjuro's striking costume is decorated with coins, and his fan is inscribed with the stylized character for long life. Ironically, tensions with his father culminated in Danjuro VIII's suicide in Osaka just two years after the publication of this portrait. The exceptional quality of the printing exemplifies the artistic collaboration between Kunisada and his publisher.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 41, pp. 136-137.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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