The Actors Ichikawa Danjuro II as Soga no Goro and Ogawa Zengoro as Kudo Suketsune

Artist: Torii Kiyonobu 鳥居清信 (1664-1729)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1715
Ink, color, and gold on paper
H x W (image): 41.4 x 52.1 cm (16 5/16 x 20 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kabuki, kakemono, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e

To 1898
Edward S. Hull Jr., New York, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Edward S. Hull Jr. in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 134, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Edward S. Hull Jr. was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa’s (1853-1908) lawyer. Hull often acted as an agent, facilitating purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa, as well as purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa's well-known associate, Bunshichi Kobayashi (see correspondence, Hull to Freer, 1898-1900, as well as invoices from E.S. Hull Jr., 1898-1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives). See also, Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pgs. 15 and 34. See further, Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, Freer: A Legacy of Art, (Washington, DC and New York: Freer Gallery of Art and H. N. Abrams, 1993), pgs. 133-134.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Edward S. Hull Jr. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


This hanging scroll depicts a scene from the Kabuki play, Bando-ichi Kotobuki Soga. This version of the story of the Soga brothers'  vendetta for the murder of their father was first performed in the second month of 1715 at the Nakamura Theatre in Edo (now Tokyo). In this scene, Soga no Goro attacks his uncle, Kudo no Suketsune, as the latter prepares fresh herbs for the New Year.

The painting has a document that identifies the actors as Ichikawa Danjuro II in the role of Soga no Goro and Ogawa Zengoro in the role of Kudo no Suketsune. The third character, Asahina no Saburo, is played by Tomizawa Hanzaburo.

One of the finest surviving works by Torii Kiyonobu, who belonged to a lineage of artists specializing in portrayals of Kabuki actors, this painting captures the vitality and excitement of Kabuki performance in the Edo period.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. p. 11, fig. 8.
  • History of Ukiyoe Painters. p. 14.
  • Mark Howard Sandler. The Confusion Era: Art and Culture of Japan During the Allied Occupation, 1945-1952. Washington, 1997. p. 17.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 30, pp. 72-75.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 129.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 209, fig. 143.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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