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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Triptych of Ichikawa Danjurō VII (市川団十郎) as Gantetsubō (願鉄坊) on the left, Segawa Kikunojō V (瀬川菊之丞) as Dote no Oroku (土手のお六) in the middle and Sawamura Gennosuke II (沢村源之助) as Denbei (伝兵衛) on the right

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Dates: 1831,created
Dimensions: 30.0 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画 on the middle and right panels
一勇斎国よし画 on the left
Publisher: Kawaguchiya Chōzō
(Marks 230 - seal 21-202)
Censor's seal: kiwame - on center and left panels only

Related links: Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - middle panel; Waseda University - right panel; Doshisha University - the left panel only; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1856 Toyokuni III print of Date no Oroku and Gantetsubō;

Physical description:

Dote no Oroku, "...literally Oroku of the Embankment", is an akuba or "An evil middle-aged woman in sewamono drama, who indulges in extortion, blackmail or murder. She is usually a clever person, who can bluff, fight and swindle. She is also often possessed with a certain sense of loyal chivalry."

Gantetsu is a scoundrel who pretends to be a devout Buddhist, but will do anything for money.

The source of this information is Kabuki21.

The bō (坊) of Gantetsubō means 'monk' or 'bonze'.

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This triptych commemorates a possible performance of a play called Iro misao kuruwa bunsho (色操廓文章) in the seventh month of 1831 at the Kawarazaki-za in Edo.

The relatively good condition and strong coloring allow us to enjoy some of the subtler elements of this triptych - especially in the center and left panels. In the center, the bare-chested female figure has lowered her robes. While this was an exceptional act in a kabuki play - considering that only men were allowed to play women - it is her elaborate, even gorgeous, blue dyed garment which eventually captures our attention. The bottom part represents a beautifully tiled rooftop with a giant lion's head capping its outermost corner. In the speckled sky above are several small birds flittering about.

In the panel to the left is a seated figure with an equally remarkable robe decorated with gray bats flying on a rust colored ground. Something easily missed. Use the zooming tool to get a full appreciation of these designs.

A most unusual triptych, showing a kabuki scene with a woman pulling down her kimono to reveal a tattooed shoulder and her bare breasts. 'Female' nudity of this kind is most unusual in Kabuki Ukiyo-e. Also Kuniyoshi's signature in the left panel is written in the 'Osaka' style. ex B. W. Robinson collection