The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as Sakata no Kintoki

Artist: Katsukawa Shunshō 勝川春章 (1726-1792)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1781
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 34.1 x 16.9 cm (13 7/16 x 6 5/8 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), hosoban, Japan, kabuki, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

The simplicity and abstraction of this portrait, which is dominated by a black costume emblazoned with a calligraphic character reserved in white, focuses on the face of the actor Ichikawa Danjuro V. He projects enormous power and imminent force as he casts a menacing glare over his shoulder. Danjuro performs as Sakata no Kintoki (the character kin on his costume identifies his role) in a play in which the four followers of the warrior Minamoto no Raiko (948-1021) confront the monster Earth Spider (Tsuchigumo), who has assumed the forms of beautiful women. In this scene, the Earth Spider reveals her true identity as she dances before Raiko and his men. This print is a masterpiece of actor portraiture that reveals the artist Shunsho's understanding of the visual power of posture, color, and composition.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 13, pp. 78-79.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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