The Actors Sawamura Sojuro I as Katsumoto and Ichikawa Monnosuke I as Yoshimasa

Artist: Okumura Toshinobu 奥村利信 (Japanese, fl. ca. 1717-1750)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1724 November
Woodblock print; ink, hand-applied color and brass powder on paper
H x W (overall): 32.1 x 16 cm (12 5/8 x 6 5/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Anne van Biema collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hosoban, Japan, kabuki, theater, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, yakusha-e
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Sidney C. Ward
Anne van Biema American, 1915 - 2004


Kabuki actors were a popular subject of Japanese prints. Versatile and innovative, the top actors often played a wide range of male and female roles. The actors here, both charismatic stars in the Edo theatrical world, play young warriors in a period drama loosely based on events in the fifteenth century. At right, Sawamura Sojuro I (1685-1756) plays Hosokawa Katsumoto (1430-1473), while Ichikawa Monnosuke I (1691-1729) plays the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490), whose devotion to cultural pursuits is displayed in the motifs of tea ceremony utensils on his kimono. The prominent circular motifs on the actors' sleeves are their family crests. This print is an example of an urushi-e (lacquer picture), a style of hand coloring applied to prints from a single carved woodblock. Glittering metal powders and a glossy black created by adding glue to ink create a luxurious effect resembling Japanese, gold-decorated lacquer ware.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 1, p. 54-55.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum