Artist: Toshusai SharakuTitle: Bando Mitsugoro II as Ishii GenzoJapanese Woodblock on black mica backgroundSize is 15.25” x 10.25”. From the program titled, "Hanaayame Bunroku Soga".
This picture depicts the scene where Bando Mitsugoro II playing Ishii Genzo stood up to Fujikawa Mizuemon with a sword in his hand. This picture depicts a scene in a kabuki program called "Hanaayame Bunroku Soga" performed by the Miyako troupe in May 1794. The "Hanaayame Bunroku Soga" was adapted in 1701 from true story "Kameyama no Adauchi," where two younger brothers took their revenge for their father and brother's murder after 28 years in Kameyama, a castle town of Ise no Kuni. Three brothers sought their revenge on Fujikawa Mizuemon who killed their father and stole a scroll secretly handed down in their family. Contrary to their intentions, the oldest brother Genzo was also killed by their intended victim, Mizuemon. Finally, two younger brothers Hanjiro and Gennojo took revenge on him after 28 years with the help of Ogishi Kurando, chief retainer of the Momoi family, feudal lord of Kameyama Castle. Artist information: Toshusai Sharaku created over 140 woodblock prints in only 10 months from May 1794 to January 1795 and then suddenly disappeared. Although all of his prints were published by publisher Tsutaya Juzaburo, he is known as a mysterious artist with no other relationships, such as master/apprentice relationships. ?Sharaku's woodblock prints are categorized into four periods according to the time he made the prints and his style also changes with these periods. The Tokyo National Museum owns 27 of 28 first period yakusha okubi-e (literally pictures of large heads of actors), which comprises close-ups of actors who performed in summer programs presented by the three main troupes of Edo in May 1794. The 27 pictures are collectively designated as an important cultural property.
The Edo period, or Tokugawa period, is the time between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional feudal lords. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.
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