The Actor Bando Mitsugoro IV as Kan Shojo

Artist: Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1864)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1832
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 23.2 x 27 cm (9 1/8 x 10 5/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Anne van Biema collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


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

Anne van Biema American, 1915 - 2004


Kan Shojo, the role played by Bando Mitsugoro IV (1800- 1863) according to the inscription on this print, represents the courtier Sugawara no Michizane (845-903). The famous play, Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy (Sugawara denju tenarai kagami), which was performed both in kabuki and puppet theaters, has a complex plot based on the life of Michizane, who was exiled to Kyushu because of the actions of a rival at the imperial court. In this brilliant design by Kunisada, the actor raises the sleeve of his robe, which is decorated with a stylized plum-blossom motif that is associated with this role. To the right is an arrow hitting a bull's-eye, a symbol that was hung in the towers of kabuki theaters to indicate a "hit" play. This print commemorates a performance in the year that Mitsugoro inherited his adoptive father's name, under which he carried on a rivalry with Nakamura Utaemon IV (1796?-1852) that had begun between the actors' respective fathers.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 38, pp. 128-129.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum