The Actor Nakamura Utaemon III as Kato Masakiyo

Artist: Hokushu (fl. ca. 1810-1832)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1822
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 37.4 x 26.1 cm (14 3/4 x 10 1/4 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), Japan, kabuki, oban, poems, portrait, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, yakusha-e
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Anne van Biema American, 1915 - 2004


Nakamura Utaemon III was a major star of the Osaka kabuki stage, but he also performed in Edo. Each of his arrivals in Edo and Osaka created great excitement and intensified his rivalries with other star actors, notably Arashi Kichisaburo in Osaka and Bando Mitsugoro III in Edo. Here a close-up portrait by the Osaka artist Hokushu conveys Utaemon's projection of strength and determination as the character Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611), a symbol of loyalty in the face of lethal treachery. The print commemorates a performance at the Kado Theater in Osaka in 1820. A poem, a common feature of Osaka prints, is inscribed above the actor's head. It reads:

Kiyomasa is the moon
shining on the world
at midday:
an art of piercing insight.

Translation of poem by Roger S. Keyes (Roger S. Keyes and Keiko Mizushima, The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints [Philadelphia Museum
of Art, 1973])

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 45, pp. 144-145.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum