Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)

The Syllable Ri for the Carp Scroll (Rigyo no ichijiku): Onoe Kikugorō III as Kinugawa Yoemon (きぬ川与右衛門) from the series Seven Calligraphic Models for Each Character in the Kana Syllabary (Seisho nanatsu iroha - 清書七以呂波)


9.625 in x 14.25 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Carver: Hori Take (彫竹)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Diet Library
Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow
Fitzwilliam Museum
Art and Design Library, Edinburgh
Hankyu Culture Foundation

The curatorial files at the Fitzwilliam Museum state:

"A posthumous portrait of Onoe Baiju (a name used by Onoe Kikugoro III in retirement) as Rokusaburo the carpenter with a giant carp, from the series Kiyogaki nanatsu iroha (Neatly Written Syllabary in the Seven Styles). On the folding screen at the top the character for the syllable 'Ri' is written out in four different ways with different meanings, and also appears in a poem by Kizugawa Yoemon; one of the possible meanings is 'carp'.

Rokusaburo is the main character in the play Mijikayo ukina no chirashigaki, set in the timber yards of Fukugawa. The scene depicted is a 'carp-grappling scene' (koitsukami), which originated in the type of summer play (natsu kyogen) known as mizu kyogen ('water play'), using tanks of real water (honmizu) on stage. Plays with carp-grappling scenes (koitsukami mono) involved the hero in underwater combat with the spirit of a giant carp (an elaborate prop). The technique was passed down through the Onoe lineage of actors to Kikugoro III, who made the scene famous in Kijikayo ukina no chirashigaki when it was premiered in 1813 and commemorated in an earlier print by Kunisada."


There are at least two other prints from this series in the Lyon Collection, #s 747 and 1272.

The small text on the screen reads: 鯉魚の一軸木津川与右衛門.
Hayashiya Shōgorō (林屋庄五郎) (publisher)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Onoe Kikugorō III (三代目尾上菊五郎: 11/1815-3/1848) (actor)
Yokokawa Takejirō (横川彫武) (carver)