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

Bandō Hikosaburō IV as Otowaya Baikō (音羽屋梅幸) in Yamashiro no kuni meisho (山城の国名所) from the series 'Actors with Six Jewel Faces' (Haiyū mutama-gao - 俳優六玉顔)


ca 1832
10.25 in x 15 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Publisher: Yamaguchiya Tōbei
(Marks 591 - seal 15-005)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Library of Congress
Waseda University
Lyon Collection - Nakamura Shikan II from this series
Lyon Collection - Yamatoya Baiga from this series
Lyon Collection - Bandō Mitsugorō IV from this series

The six jewel rivers were noted beauty spots of antiquity. The title of this series is a pun on the words kawa (river) and kao (face). In this magnificent set, for the landscape background, Kunisada took advantage of the fashionable vogue for prints in the new imported Prussian blue pigment.


The curatorial files at the Metropolitan Museum say of this theme: "The theme of six beautiful rivers, each associated with a flower and a classical court poem, enjoyed great popularity in the late Edo period, especially among ukiyo-e printmakers. Mountain roses (yamabuki) are associated with the Ide Tamagawa, near Kyoto." Here those striking yellow flowers which cluster along the river's edge are represented in shades of blue, but the knowledgeable viewer knew what their true color was. Only those separated from the time and culture in which this print was created would be ignorant of its true significance.
Yamaguchiya Tōbei (山口屋藤兵衛) (publisher)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
blue prints (aizuri-e - 藍摺絵) (genre)
Bandō Hikosaburō IV (四代目坂東彦三郎) (actor)
landscape prints (sansui ga - 山水画) (genre)