The Actors Nakamura Utaemon III as Konobei and Nakamura Matsue III as Shiokumi Kofuji

Artist: Shunbaisai Hokuei (active 1829-1837)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1832
Ink, color, brass, silver, mica and embossing on paper
H x W (overall): 37.3 x 51.5 cm (14 11/16 x 20 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, courtier, dance, diptych, Edo period (1615 - 1868), haiku, Japan, kabuki, poems, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

Nakamura Utaemon III plays the commoner Konobei as the onnagata Nakamura Matsue III (Tomijuro II) performs a dance in the style of a shirabyoshi, a female performer who wears male courtiers' robes. Matsue III's poem on the right notes that this is a death-anniversary performance to honor Nakamura Matsue I (1742-1786):

Though it is presumptuous of me,
I offer this death-anniversary performance
as a tribute to my ancestor:
In memory of the deceased,
the sounds of autumn sough
through pines on the beach.

Utaemon's poem on the left alludes to paper robes worn in kabuki plays by lovers reduced to poverty:

The more they age
the more auspicious-
robes of paper.

Translation of poems by John T. Carpenter

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 63, pp. 178-179.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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