Original Toyokuni III/Kunisada (1786 - 1864) Japanese Woodblock Print
Backstage and Dressing Rooms and Backstage at a Newly Opened Theater, 1856
Comments - Fantastic six-panel woodblock depicting a look backstage at a kabuki theater bustling with actors, servants, and guests. The top triptych depicts "Backstage and Dressing Rooms." In a dressing room at right, actors relax before the evening's performance, gathering around a brazier to smoke a pipe and enjoy a cup of tea from the kettle over the coals. In front of them, two men practice a scene, posing and gesturing. A makeup mirror sits on a chest nearby with brushes hanging from an attached rack. Sashes and props are arranged on the wall and shelf behind, with a small oil lamp burning before a shrine. In a room at center, an attendant carefully brushes a wig, readying it for use. At far left, an actor fits on flared sideburns as he kneels beside a mirror, a dresser hovering behind him. The actors in the right panel are Sawamura Tossho II, Arashi Kichisaburo III, Bando Hikosaburo IV, Nakamura Fukusuke I, and Iwai Kumesaburo III.
The bottom triptych depicts "Backstage at a Newly Opened Kabuki Theater." In a dressing room at left, an actor dressed for a female role kneels beside a makeup stand, filling a slender pipe with tobacco. A beauty hands him a large scroll tied with cord while another actor standing nearby holds a rolled up script. The shelves behind them are piled with colorful robes, and wigs on stands are covered with protective white cloths. A man comes down the stairs in the center, his sword bearer following behind him, while at right, a servant carries a heavy wicker trunk over his shoulder and a pair of sandals.
A fantastic image with wonderful detail in the interior setting and furnishings, offering a unique look at the backstage workings of a busy kabuki theater. This incredible composition is rarely found complete in six panels. A terrific choice for a serious kabuki enthusiast, also in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Artist - Toyokuni III/Kunisada (1786 - 1864)
Image Size - 28 1/4" x 29 1/4"28 1/4" x 29 1/4"
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Six separate panels. Vertical fold at side of each panel. A few losses at edges, a few small wormholes, slight separation at ends of folds, repaired. Slight soiling, a few creases and marks. Please see photos for details.