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Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni II (二代目歌川豊国)

Print: Six prominent kabuki actors on a winter outing

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Dates: 1820s,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Matsumura Tatsuemon (Marks #311)
Seal: Matsu (Marks 03-009)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Metropolitan Museum of Art - left panel only; Art Gallery of New South Wales - left panel only;

Physical description:

A boatman wearing a straw overcoat in heavy snow stands on the starboard gunnel and poles a river boat carrying six actors. Snow accumulates in the boat and the actors' geta leave prints. Other craft, a dock, a shrine, people walking, a man pulling a loaded horse are visible on the distant riverbank.

The actors are identified by their poetry names written in white reserve in the gray sky at the top of each panel:

    RIGHT PANEL:
  • Baikō (梅幸), aka Onoe Kikugorō III (尾上菊五郎) (right)
  • Shinsha (新車), aka Ichikawa Monnosuke IV (市川門之助), dressed as an onnagata (left)
    CENTER PANEL:
  • an actor as yet unidentified (right)
  • Sanshō (三升), aka Ichikawa Danjurō VII (市川団十郎), dressed as an onnagata (left)
    LEFT PANEL:
  • Baiga (梅我), aka Iwai Hanshirō V (Iwai Tojaku) (岩井半四郎) (right)
  • Rokō (路考), aka Segawa Kikunojō V (瀬川菊之丞), dressed as an onnagata (left)

It is interesting to speculate as to whether or not this group every really got together or if this was just a bit of visual whimsy and wish fulfillment. Were these men all members of the same poetry club? Perhaps we will know for sure sometime - after further research.

The Lyon Collection would like to thank an anonymous scholar for his contribution to this entry. His work has been invaluable.

The linked image from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is attributed to Kunisada. This is a mistake but an understandable one considering that their example entered the museum in 1914. Three things work against its being assigned to Kunisada: 1) it is signed 'Toyokuni ga'; 2) stylistically it relates most definitely to images created in the 1820s and 30s; and 3) it must be by either Toyokuni I, who died in 1825, or Toyokuni II, who died in 1835.