Half-length portrait of the actor Onoe Matsusuke I as Retired Emperor Sutoku in act three of the play Kitekaeru Nishiki no Wakayaka (Returning Home in Splendor)
Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1780
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Creator Name: Katsukawa, Shunko
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1743-1812 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Katsukawa Shunko
Title: Half-length portrait of the actor Onoe Matsusuke I as Retired Emperor Sutoku in act three of the play Kitekaeru Nishiki no Wakayaka (Returning Home in Splendor)
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1780
Creation End Date: 1780
Creation Date: Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the first day of the eleventh month, 1780
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Aiban; 32.1 x 23.5 cm (untrimmed)
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE Shunko ga
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1925.2370
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, The Clarence Buckingham Collection
Context: Shunko depicts Onoe Matsusuke I in the role of Retired Emperor Sutoku. Kabuki Nempyo records that he made his entrance on a kind of elevator platform which rose through a trapdoor in the stage floor, while musicians chanted in Ozatsuma style.Sutoku was born in 1119 and reigned from 1123 to 1141. In the Hogen Incident of 1156 he schemed to have his son assume the throne, but powerful forces among the warrior clans as well as at court supported the candidacy of Sutoku's brother-in-law, Go-Shirakawa. The issue was in fact decided by fighting between the rival Minamoto and Taira warrior clans, and Sutoku, whose partisans were defeated, was exiled to Sanuki Province on the island of Shikoku, where he died in 1164.The full plot of the 1780 play is not known, but the illustrated program (ehon banzuke) shows Matsusuke I as the exiled Sutoku, standing on the beach in Sanuki holding aloft a handscroll, with a warrior retainer kneeling at his feet. His hair hangs loose, and the top part of his kimono has been thrown back (bukkaeri) to reveal a pattern of angry flames, just as in Shunko's portrait. Possibly both designs depict that climactic moment in which the retired emperor suddenly reveals his evil ambition to reclaim the throne, perhaps with the assistance of magic incantations contained in the scroll.Shunko composed the portrait so that the flames flicker upward toward the face, which looms down upon the viewer. The narrowed eyes, with pupils crossed, express sinister calculation. Particularly fine and sensitive engraving renders Sutoku's glossy mane of hair, which cascades down to meet the leaping flames on the robe. Over each shoulder are the purple brocade straps of a monk's stole (kesa), indicating that Sutoku had, as was the custom, taken holy orders and nominally retired from worldly affairs.
AMICA ID: AIC_.1925.2370
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998
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