Subject:Kunhiyoshi/Kunisada Print Mystery
Posted By: Stan Sat, Sep 26, 2020 IP: 2601:18c:504:a6e0:44
I recently purchased 7 Kunisada prints. When researching one, I came across quite a puzzle.
Being lazy, the first thing I did was an image search and got a hit at the Waseda Unversity Theater Museum (WUTM).
Note the striking similarity between the WUTM print on the left and mine on the right.
The publisher (lower left) is the same for both prints.
There are a couple of major differences. The WUTM print is by Kuniyoshi and depicts the actor Bando Tamasaburo I.
My print is by Kunisada and depicts the actor Onoe Kikugoro III (if I got it right).
The common thread is the three characters at the upper right of each actor's name.
I believe that is the role the actor is playing. Can anyone translate those 3 characters? (Please I. Nagy?)
With this information, I jumped to the conclusion that both actors were playing the same role in a play in 1835 (the date the WUTM attributed to the Kuniyoshi print).
I then went to the Kabuki21 website and tried to cross the actors looking for a play in 1835.
Unfortunately, neither actor was that famous. While they are mentioned on the Kabuki21 website, the history of their performances is not available for 1835.
This leaves me with a number of questions. Why two such similar prints by two different artists of two different actors?
Are my assumptions correct? Who copied whom? Did something happen (illness?) to one actor and the other have to take his place?
If you can solve this mystery, you are my hero(ine)!