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Asian Art
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Artist: Kyōgadō Ashikuni, Japanese, active 1801–1820
Artist: Nakamura Utaemon III, Japanese, 1778–1838

Nakamura Utaemon III Plays the Role of the Courtesan, from the series Twelve Roles [of Kabuki Plays]

Spring 1817 (Year of the Ox)

Surimono, vertical chū‑ban (trimmed); polychrome woodblock prints

sheet (each): 9 13/16 × 4 3/4 in. (25 × 12 cm)
Gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970
2020.2.7.1-.12

狂画堂芦國 並びに 三代目中村歌右衛門 十二化け 江戸時代

Though Edo (present-day Tokyo) was the seat of government of the eponymous era, the cultural vitality of the country was not limited to the bounds of the capital city. Osaka native Nakamura Utaemon III, more commonly referred to by the pseudonym Shikan, was a cause célèbre in the world of Kabuki. When this series of twelve premiere-commemorating prints of Kabuki plays was issued in late spring 1817, Shikan had been back home in Osaka for a year, following a triumphant tour of performances in Edo. Each of the Kabuki-centric prints in the series represents one month of the year. Shikan and Kyōgadō Ashikuni drafted the portraits, and, along with members of the actor’s fan club, also contributed the poems, which are in haiku (seventeen syllables) rather than the usual waka (thirty-one syllables).

Geography: 
Japan
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

Joan B. Mirviss (dealer), New York; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 2013 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017—2019); given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2019

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.