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signed Oju (by special request) Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with artist’s seal Kunichika, the role identified, Maruybashi Chuya, followed by the actor’s name, Ichikawa Sadanji, with carver’s seal Horiko Gin (Asai Ginjiro, 1844-94), publisher’s information of Matsumoto Eikichi ban, and Kunichika’s address (under his birth name Arakawa Yasohachi), and dated Otodoke Meiji juroku-nen roku-gatsu -ka (published Meiji 16 , June)
oban tate-e riptych 14 5/8 by 29 5/8 in., 37.1 by 75.3 cm
The actor Ichikawa Sadanji I (1842-1940) is in the role of Marubashi Chuya from the play Keian Taiheiki (Record of the Great Pacification of the Keian Period). The play tells the story of the Keian Uprising of 1651, a failed coup led by Marubashi’s historical counterpart (d. 1651) against the Tokugawa shogunate. The scene takes place at the moat outside of Edo Castle.
According to the historical account, Marubashi was a member of a group which intended to take Edo castle as part of a larger plan to overthrow the shogunate. However, he fell ill and during feverish dreams, he revealed the secrets of the plan which the Shogun’s allies eventually heard about and were able to act upon. Marubashi was arrested and executed, and most of his co-conspirators either committed seppuku or were tortured and killed. The kabuki role of Marubashi Chuya was the lead in the play Keian Taiheiki, and had been portrayed Sadanji I at the premiere in 1870.
Nobutaka Imamura, ed., Ukiyo-e (Kunichika), Kyoto University of Art & Design, March 2018, p. 84, no. 703
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, triptych no. 4 in an album of 32 triptychs by various artists, accession no. 1999.457.2