The Actor Nakamura Utaemon III as Kyogoku no Takumi

Artist: Hokushu (fl. ca. 1810-1832)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1825
Woodblock print; ink, color and embossing on paper
H x W (overall): 37.8 x 25.7 cm (14 7/8 x 10 1/8 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), fan, Japan, kabuki, portrait, surimono, theater, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, yakusha-e
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Anne van Biema American, 1915 - 2004


Nakamura Utaemon III appears here in a portrait on a fan. He casts a menacing glare as the villain Kyogoku no Takumi, who murders the fencing master Ichimisai after the master defeats him. His elder daughter, Osono, and her fiancé, who is a disciple of Ichimisai, avenge Ichimisai's death. In a tour de force of acting skill, Utaemon played all three roles in a performance that was intended to mark his retirement from acting in 1825. He did not retire after all, but continued to act until his death in 1838. This print is one of several portraits on fans that were published for Utaemon's retirement performance. This print is inscribed, "The performance of a lifetime, hit play" (Isse ichidai atari kyogen). Embossing, a technique often employed in surimono, creates a realistic impression of the ribs of a fan.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 52, pp. 156-157.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum