Katsukawa Shunsho / The actor Bando Mitsugoro I as Abbot Saimyo-ji Tokiyori, disguised as a monk / Performed at the Morita Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1773Katsukawa Shunsho
The actor Bando Mitsugoro I as Abbot Saimyo-ji Tokiyori, disguised as a monk
Performed at the Morita Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1773

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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 Bando Mitsugoro I as Abbot Saimyo-ji Tokiyori, disguised as a monk
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1773
Creation End Date: 1773
Creation Date: Performed at the Morita Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1773
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Hosoban; 31.2 x 13.5 cm
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE: Shunsho ga (trimmed from bottom left)
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1939.679
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Frederick W. Gookin Collection
Rights: http://www.artic.edu/aic/rights/main.rights.html
Context: The actor Bando Mitsugoro I as Abbot Saimyo-ji Tokiyori, disguised as a monk, in the joruri 'Onna Hachi no Ki' (A Female Version of 'The Potted Trees') from part two of the play Onna Aruji Hatsuyuki no Sekai (A Woman as Master: the World of the First Snow). 'Hachi no Ki' (The Potted Trees) was a popular joruri for inclusion in opening-of-the-season productions because it provided the snow scene obligatory for the kaomise: in this case, the famous episode in which the regent Tokiyori, disguised as an itinerant monk, seeks shelter from the snow at the cottage of Sano Genzaemon; Genzaemon, having no other firewood, chops up his beloved potted trees to make a fire for his guest. A more detailed plot synopsis occurs in the commentary to Number 39 (see 'The Actor's Image' catalogue, p.128), but the novelty of the 1773 performance lay in Tokiyori's reception not by Sano Genzaemon but by his wife Shirotae and her sister Tamazusa- hence the title 'Onna Hachi no Ki' (A Female Version of 'The Potted Trees'). The dramatist Chikamatsu had similarly switched the sexes in a puppet play written in 1699, and by 1707 the idea had already been taken over into Kabuki.The illustrated program (ehon banzuke) for the performance of 1773 shows Bando MitsugoroI as Tokiyori outside the gate to the farmhouse, Nakamura Tomiju?ro I as Shirotae wearing a straw cape against the snow and carrying a basket of vegetables and Nakamura Noshio I as Tamazusa in the famous pose of sweeping the snow from the eaves with a broom (see 'The Actor'sImage' catalogue, fig. 68.1, p.201).This is one of the first plays mentioned by Lord Yanagisawa Nobutoki in his theater diary, Enyu? Nikki Betsuroku, which he began writing in 1773. Of the socially varied crowd that attended the performance on the thirteenth day of the eleventh month he writes, 'Two women who looked like geisha came [and sat in the box] next door. In five boxes on the opposite side were customers of the Onoya [theater teahouse]- the wives of various lords wearing wraparound cotton head scarves to disguise their features.'The sense of seriousness, even gravitas, with which Shunsho has imbued his portrait of Tokiyori confutes the misguided notion that Kabuki was (and is) nothing more than a colorful popular spectacle devoid of emotional content. Regent Tokiyori's purpose in disguising himself as a humble itinerant monk was to learn firsthand the condition of the people and the distribution of enemy forces throughout the nation; his sober expression and firm stance amid the thickly falling snow convey both the arduousness of the mission he has set himself and his unswerving resolution in pursuing it.Clearly Shunsho intended a somber color scheme to match this serious theme: Tokiyori's monastic robes were rendered in white, gray, and black, with the folds of his black cotton rain jacket (kappa) left in stark white reserve. The orange-red lead pigment (tan) of the brushwood fence and of Tokiyori's staff, hat, and straw sandals has taken on a deep purple-black tarnish, and the white lead of his kimono has dulled to a heavy gray. It remains an intriguing question whether these rich patinas on the surface of the lead pigments were intended by the artist and his printer, perhaps even artificially induced. In any event, to have abandoned the glorious full color of the new 'brocade print' technology in favor of a grisaille color scheme is surely a mark of unusual artistic sophistication.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1939.679
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998

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