Utagawa Toyokuni (Toyokuni I): Actor Ichikawa Dannosuke III
Japan, Edo period, 1814
Colour woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper, vertical oban (oban tate-e), 39 x 26,5 cm. Good colours, slightly creased in the right corner.
The print depicts the actor Ichikawa Dannosuke III playing a woman's role in a kabuki play. Kabuki (歌舞伎?) is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers. Women’s kabuki, called onna-kabuki, was banned in 1629 for being too erotic. Following onna-kabuki, young boys performed in wakashū-kabuki, but since they too were eligible for prostitution, the shogun government soon banned wakashū-kabuki as well. Kabuki switched to adult male actors, called yaro-kabuki, in the mid-1600s
Ichikawa Dannosuke III held his name from 1800 to the 11th lunar month of 1817 and was followed by his younger brother, who took the name of Ichikawa Dannosuke IV in the 11th lunar month of 1822.
Utagawa Toyokuni (Japanese: 歌川豐國; 1769 in Edo – 24 February 1825 in Edo), also often referred to as Toyokuni I, to distinguish him from the members of his schoolwho took over his gō (art-name) after he died, was a great master of ukiyo-e, known in particular for his kabuki actor prints.