The Actor Iwai Hanshiro IV

Artist: Katsukawa Shunshō 勝川春章 (1726-1792)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, late 1780s
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 32.6 x 14.9 cm (12 13/16 x 5 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), hosoban, Japan, kabuki, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

In a dance pose, Iwai Hanshiro IV (1747-1800), who became one of the most accomplished onnagata of the late eighteenth century, displays his skill in creating the illusion of feminine grace. He draws his long kimono sleeve across his body in a graceful gesture as he assumes the curving, lateral posture that softens and minimizes the appearance of his male body beneath the costume, makeup, and wig. Draped behind him is the white overcloak that was worn by high-ranking women while traveling. Shunsho's skill in realistic portraiture can be seen in the portrayal of the plump face and figure of the actor who was nicknamed Otafuku Hanshiro after the voluptuous popular goddess, Otafuku.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 14, pp. 80-81.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.