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Hirosada (廣貞)

Kataoka Ichizô I as Akechi Samagorô in an unidentified play; theater unknown; Series: Chûkô buyûden
No seals
Kawaota (川音)
c. 1849
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
25.1 x 18.0 cm
Excellent deluxe edition with metallic pigments
Excellent color and very good condition (backed, upper left and lower right corners slightly dog-eared)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: HSD49


The series title Chûkô buyûden (Tales of courage, loyalty, and filial piety: 忠孝武勇伝) was one of several similar titles that Hirosada used on prints in the wake of the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô Reforms: 天保改革) that had banned the publication of actor prints from 1842 to 1847. Such print or series titles were merely transparent camouflage — no one, including government censors, was fooled into thinking that such images were anything but actor prints; still, the gesture helped satisfy the letter of the law.


Hirosada's print is the right sheet of a diptych; the left sheet (not included here) depicts Jitsukawa Ensaburô I as Kohina Gengorô.

This is a fine and rare design depicting Ichizô as he displays the determined mien of a valiant warrior. The richly colored outer robe, decorated with large white kikyô (bellflowers: 桔梗 one of the seven plants of autumn) and the faux-gold brass pigment used for the tsuba (hand/sword guard: 鍔 or 鐔) add to the visual impact of this work. It is only the second impression we have ever encountered (see reference below).

References: R.E. Lewis catalog, San Rafael, California, June 1976, Nineteenth Century Japanese Figure Prints IV: Hirosada and the Later Osaka Artists, no. 5 (diptych)