The Actors Nakamura Utaemon III as Kanawa Goro Imanuki and Arashi Koroku IV as Omiwa

Artist: Shunkōsai Hokushū 春好斎 北洲 (fl. ca. 1810-1832)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1821
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), Japan, kabuki, oban, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

In a scene of confrontation from a play loosely based on the intrigue surrounding the ascendancy of the Fujiwara family against the Soga family in the seventh century, the great actor Nakamura Utaemon III confronts Omiwa, played by Arashi Koroku IV (1783-1826), a leading onnagata in Osaka. Omiwa follows a thread attached to the clothing of the Fujiwara prince with whom she has fallen in love. After following the thread to Soga no Iruka's (?-645) palace, she flies into a jealous rage when she finds that the prince is engaged to marry Iruka's sister. Fujiwara no Kamatari's (614-669) retainer stops Omiwa and stabs her, explaining as she dies that her blood, that of a woman in a jealous rage, will help to empower his flute to break Iruka's power against his enemies. Here the doomed Omiwa holds the spool she believes is still attached to her beloved. This print by Hokushu, the leading designer of Osaka actor prints, is a good example of his half-length portraits of pairs of actors. Superb design and block engraving can be seen in details such as the hair.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 46, pp. 146-147.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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