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Maker(s):Natori Shunsen; Watanabe Shōzaburō, publisher
Culture:Japanese (1886–1960)
Title:Sawamura Gennosuke as Nikki Danjō ('shisei Sawamura Gennosuke'), from the series 'Portraits of Actors in Various Roles' ('Shunsen nigao-e shū') (1925–1931)
Date Made:1928
Materials:woodblock print
Place Made:Tokyo
Measurements:frame: 17 7/16 in x 12 1/4 in ; 44.3 cm x 31.1 cm; sheet: 15 1/2 in x 10 13/16 in ; 39.4 cm x 27.5 cm
Accession Number:  AC 1996.253
Credit Line:Gift of Lakenan Barnes (Class of 1928)
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

Shin-hanga, nishiki-e, ōban, okubi-e

Label Text:
This portrait features the actor, Sawamura Gennosuke IV (1859–1936) as Nikki Danjō from 'The Precious Incense and Autumn Flowers of Sendai' ('Meiboku Sendai hagi'), one of two variations on a kabuki play by Nagawa Kamesuke (active 1772–1789) . Signed 'Kachichō Shunsen ga,' with artist's seal 'Shunsen.' Publisher's seal 'Watanabe-ko,' indicating the publishing house of Watanabe Shōzaburō; in the middle of the right edge, the artist's approval seal is faintly visible. The actor's crest ('mon') of three gingko leaves is representative of Sawamura. The floral pattern of the band ('noshime') of his robe is commonly associated in theatre prints with the role of Nikki Danjō, a malevolent magician who can assume the form of a rat. The play is a fantastical retelling of an assasination attempt by the leaders of the Date clan in Sendai in 1660. Shunsen has here depicted Sawamura in the moments immediately following his reassumption of human form. He holds in his mouth a scroll, detailing the names of the co-conspirators of the assassin, which he stole while in the guise of a grey rat. The red mark on his forehead represents a recent wound: upon seeing the rat scurrying away, the scroll clutched in its jaws, Arajishi Otonosuke, a protector of the clan's heir, beats the creature with an iron fan, forcing Nikki Danjō to reveal his true form and leaving a stylized bruise on the villain's forehead. While famous for this role, Sawamura Gennosuke IV, of the Kinokuniya guild, is also revered as one of the last true 'onnagata' (literally 'female form') kabuki actors, as he proved especially skillful at performing feminine roles. The 36 original portraits in this series were issued from May 1925 until April 1929; due to its popularity however, the series was later supplemented with 15 more prints from 1929 until 1931, for a total of 51 portraits.

faces; portraits; actors; men; kimonos

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