The actor Nakamura Nakazo I as Ono Sadakuro in act five of Kanadehon Chu?shingura (Model for Kana Calligraphy: Treasury of the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the fifth day of the fifth month, 1776
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Creator Name: Katsukawa, Shunsho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1726-1792 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Katsukawa Shunsho
Title: The actor Nakamura Nakazo I as Ono Sadakuro in act five of Kanadehon Chu?shingura (Model for Kana Calligraphy: Treasury of the Forty-seven Loyal Retainers)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1776
Creation End Date: 1776
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the fifth day of the fifth month, 1776
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Bai aiban (double aiban); 45.4 x 32.8 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Shunsho ga
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1930.391
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: In the ninth month of 1766 a production of Chu?shingura at the Ichimura Theater marked the return of Onoe Kikugoro I from Kansai (the Osaka-Kyoto region). In this production of the famous revenge tale Nakamura Nakazo I scored a sensation with a completely new interpretation of the role of the robber Ono Sadakuro in act five. The occasion proved to be a turning point in his career: from that time on he became the leading interpreter of cruel and villainous roles.Until Nakazo I's reinterpretation, Sadakuro- who murders and robs the old man Yoichibei at a lonely mountain pass on the Yamazaki highway - had been played in the manner (and costume) of a mountain bandit. But Sadakuro, though thoroughly vicious, had been born into a high-ranking samurai household, and Nakazo I therefore portrayed him as a scruffy ronin (masterless samurai), bearing all the signs of once-honorable estate fallen to baseness and slovenry. This is the guise we see depicted here on Shunsho's fan-print: a wig with the hair grown out on what should be a shaved pate; a tattered short-sleeved kimono in black habutae silk still bearing his clan's falcon-feather crest (this worn as if an unlined summer kimono); a brown kokura (hard-woven cotton) obi; a pair of swords with red lacquer sheaths; rolled-up sleeves; kimono skirt tucked out of the way into the back of the obi; rush sandals likewise thrust into the back of the obi; white makeup on his face, arms, and legs. Since the scene takes place on a stormy night, Nakazo I doused himself with a bucket of water before coming on, and he carried a battered umbrella with a snake's-eye pattern. He called out to Yoichibei from the hanamichi walkway, then wrung out his sleeves and wiped the water from his hair as he reached the stage. The audienceloved it.No illustration is known of this interpretation as performed in 1766, but when Nakazo I played Sadakuro for the second time, in the summer of 1768, Shunsho designed a full-length hosoban portrait (see 'The Actor's Image', p.212, fig. 73.1). Given the tentative period of publication (ca. 1775-1782) for the series Azuma Ogi, it is likely that the fan print illustrated here relates to the fourth time Nakazo I played the role, in the fifth month of 1776.Sadakuro is shown in the act of drawing his sword to murder old Yoichibei for the tragically gotten purse he is carrying. The fabric of his kimono has bunched into a formidable mass of intense black, and against this his face has been printed in a sickly pinkish white, with gray half-circles under the slitted eyes. Perhaps the most impressive aspects of the print are the way in which the figure looms suddenly, startlingly into view from one corner of the fan, and the subtle conformation between the menacing bulk of the body and the fan-shaped outline.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1930.391
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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