The Actors Ogino Isaburo as Soga no Goro and Sawamura Sojuro I as Kudo no Suketsune

Artist: Torii Kiyomasu II (1706?-1763?)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1732
Woodblock print; ink, hand-applied color, brass and embossing on paper
H x W (overall): 31.9 x 15.7 cm (12 9/16 x 6 3/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Anne van Biema collection, axe, battle, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hosoban, Japan, kabuki, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

Fight scenes are a highlight of many kabuki plays, especially jidaimono, period plays based on historical events. Here the villain Kudo Suketsune, played by the actor Sawamura Sojuro I, brandishes a giant ax as he attacks the young hero Soga no Goro, played by Ogino Isaburo. The exaggerated, dancelike poses struck by the actors are choreographed to heighten the visual effect of the struggle. The story of the Soga brothers' vendetta against the uncle who had killed their father was first made popular in puppet plays by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. By the 1730s, Soga plays were regularly included in New Year kabuki performances. The powerful linear expression and the stylized figures in this print are characteristic of the dynamic style of actor prints that became a specialty of the Torii school of artists.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 3, pp. 58-59.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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