Original Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861) Japanese Woodblock Print
Memorial Portrait of Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII, 1854
Shini-e - Literally meaning "death prints," shini-e are a category of Japanese woodblock commemorating the death of a famous kabuki actor, or less commonly, an artist or musician. These memorial portraits often depict the actor dressed in light blue death robes, or portraying a famous role associated with the individual. Some include verses or death poems along with the actor's age and date of death, or a posthumous Buddhist name. Other conventional iconography includes lotus blossoms or petals, incense burners, and prayer beads. The tragic suicide of Ichikawa Danjuro VIII in 1854 at the age of thirty-two resulted in nearly 200 shini-e of the actor. Some shini-e are recycled from earlier kabuki prints with the background blocks recut so they could be rushed into production. Most shini-e are unsigned, although some include the artist's signature. These designs are an interesting area of collecting.
Comments - Handsome memorial portrait of Ichikawa Danjuro VIII, who appears at lower right looking up at the sky as he fingers a string of prayer beads beneath his sleeves. Autumn grasses and blossoms fill the background at left behind verses in delicate calligraphy. A lovely memorial tribute to this popular kabuki actor, in an unusual triptych format.
Artist - Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861)
Image Size - 14" x 29"
Condition - This print with excellent detail as shown. Three separate panels, backed with somewhat stiff paper. Slight toning. Please see photos for details.