Large-head Kabuki Portraits: Nakamura Ganjiro In The Love Suicides At Sonezaki
by Paul Binnie

Available at Scholten Japanese Art

  • Date: 1996
  • Type: Prints
  • Medium: Woodblock
  • Edition size: 22/100
  • Sheet Size: 41.3 by 29 cm
  • Signed: Signed
  • Condition: Pristine
  • Price: $600.00

Description — Click to read

with white mica highlights on the collar and hair ornament; signed at lower right, Binnie, with artist's circular kanji seal Bin-ni, the print title at upper right, Sonezaki Shinju- Nakamura Ganjiro, numbered in pencil at lower right, 22/100, with date seal Heisei hachi-nen (Heisei 8 [1996]), and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, Paul Binnie, ca. September 1996

dai oban tate-e 16 1/4 by 11 3/8 in., 41.3 by 29 cm

The actor Nakamura Ganjiro III (Sakata Tojuro IV, b. 1931) is in the role of Ohatsu, depicted in the moment she agrees to commit suicide with her lover, from the play Sonezaki Shinju (The Love-Suicides at Sonezaki). The play was written for the puppet theater by the legendary playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725), and was first staged on June 20, 1703. The play was based on a historical love-suicide, which occurred on May 22, 1703, less than a month before the play was first produced. A few years later, Sonezaki Shinju was adapted for the kabuki stage.

Ganjiro III was awarded the title National Living Treasure in 1994. He was involved in a number of Chikamatsu revival tours in the early 2000s, performing in Japan and abroad, as far afield as England, Russia, China, and the United States. Twice, he performed the role of Ohatsu opposite one of his sons in the role of Hiranoya Tokube, Ohatsu's tragic lover. In 1995, he performed with his younger son Nakamura Senjaku III (b. 1960) in Osaka, then in 2003 he performed in Russia with Nakamura Kanjaku (Nakamura Ganjiro IV, b. 1959). As of 2009, Ganjiro III had played Ohatsu on at least 1300 different occasions.

References: Aubrey S. and Giovanna M. Halford, The Kabuki Handbook, 1956, pp. 303-306 (re: play) Donald Keene, Major Plays of Chikamatsu, 1961, pp. 39-56 (re: play text) Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 81, no. 39

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