Portrait of the Actor Ichikawa Yaozo III as Agemaki’s Sukeroku

Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I 歌川豊国 (1769-1825)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1802:3
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 37 x 25.1 cm (14 9/16 x 9 7/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kabuki, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

The role performed by Ichikawa Yaozo III (1747-1818) is that of Sukeroku, a dashing, romantic character who eventually defeats rivals for the courtesan Agemaki's affection. Although set in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter of Edo, the characters Sukeroku and his younger brother, Shimbei, are understood to represent the Soga brothers, Goro and Juro, in their vendetta to avenge their father's murder. This half-length portrait by Toyokuni, a leading designer of actor prints in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, shows the actor assuming a strong pose typical of the masculine aragoto acting style developed by Edo actors. The play Sukeroku: Flower of Edo (Sukeroku yukari no Edo zakura) has been a favorite of kabuki fans since its first performance by Ichikawa Danjuro II in the early eighteenth century. Performance of the play came to be a specialty of the Ichikawa Danjuro family line of actors; it was included in The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki juhachiban), a collection of the most successful plays of the Ichikawa Danjuro family. Actors from other families followed suit to make collections of their most important plays, thus establishing their link to a specific core repertoire of plays and roles.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 27, pp. 106-107.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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