The Actor Nakamura Utaemon III as Ishikawa Goemon

Artist: Gigadō Ashiyuki 戯画堂芦幸 (active ca. 1814–33)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1817
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 38.7 x 26.3 cm (15 1/4 x 10 3/8 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, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, oban, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

This print was published in 1817 at the height of the rivalry between the actor Nakamura Utaemon III, shown here in the role of Ishikawa Goemon, and Arashi Kichisaburo II, shown in the print to the left. The fictional character Ishikawa Goemon was inspired by stories of a ronin (masterless samurai) bandit who was ultimately captured by the hegemon Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), and along with his son was boiled in oil. Goemon's exploits became a popular subject of puppet and kabuki performances in Osaka beginning in the late seventeenth century. Here Utaemon wears a costume decorated with a pattern of chess pieces reading "dragon king." He carries a long sword and a large chest is strapped to his back. The fictional Goemon became a sympathetic character who resisted authority by repeatedly evading capture.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 44, pp. 142-143.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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