The Actor Onoe Matsusuke I as the Priest Shunkan

Artist: Katsukawa Shunkō 勝川春好 (1743-1812)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. late 1770s
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 31.8 x 14.2 cm (12 1/2 x 5 9/16 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, portrait, priest, rain, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

The actor Onoe Matsusuke I (1744-1815), a specialist of leading male roles, takes shelter from a sudden rainstorm. His role is likely that of the Buddhist priest Shunkan, who was exiled in 1177 to the island of Kikaigajima for plotting against the Taira family. He left the island on a secret mission to protect the emperor's concubine while she gave birth in a remote location. In kabuki dramatizations, his true identity is revealed when his features are reflected in a mirror. Rainfall is represented in kabuki performances by special effects such as silver strings hanging from a frame or water sprinkled from above.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 18, pp. 88-89.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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