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Hokuei (北英)

Nakamura Tomijūrō II (中村富十郎) as musume Mitaki (みたき 娘三滝); (2R) Nakamura Shikan II (中村芝翫) as Tsukushi Gonroku (筑し権六) in Keisei hako denju (Instruction in a courtesan’s secrets: けいせい [契情] 筥伝授), Naka Theater, Osaka
Shunbaisai Hokuei ga (春梅齋北英画)
No artist seal
Tenki (天喜)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e diptych
37.7 x 51.8 cm
(add $30 for priority mail outside U.S.)
Very good
Good color and condition (Slight fading; tiny album binding holes along one vertical side on each sheet; slight trimming on right of each sheet, but left side of R sheet has intact margin; L sheet has damaged/repaired lower right corner and a faint paper inclusion below right eye of Shikan; both sheets clean and large)
Price (USD/¥):
$420 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: HKE88


Keisei hako denju (Instruction in a courtesan's secrets: けいせい筥伝授), which premiered in 1/1804 at the Kado Theater, Osaka to great acclaim, was written by Segawa Jokô II (1757-1833) and others. It was an adaptation of Namiki Shôzô's (1730-73) drama Kyûshû kanegamisaki of 1759. Segawa Jokô's script has apparently not survived, although the artist Shôkôsai Hanbei (松好齋半兵衛 act. c. 1795–1809) did produce an e-iri nehon (illustrated playbook: 絵入根本) in 1807. There was also a woodblock-printed e-zukushi banzuke (playbill: 絵尽番付 a Kamigata term for small scenario booklets of 12 to 20 pages with very brief texts and images) that had a stencil-colored (kappazuri: 合羽摺) cover. The booklet was published by Gyokko Ken (玉光軒) for the premiere in 1804, and it also illustrated another play on the program — Sugata no hana musume Dôjôji (Appearance of a flower — the maiden at the Dôjô Temple: 容艶花娘道成寺).


We have not yet been able to identify the plot of the scene depicted by Hokuei.

Gonroku, accompanied by a young boy, approaches the front gate as Mitaki reads a woodblock-printed book by the light of a paper floor lantern (andon: 行灯). Behind her is a vase with peacock feathers, and to her right there is a stack of quilted bedding. A pine tree in the front garden can be seen at the lower right.

This is a rarely encountered design when complete in two sheets. We know of impressions in the Ikeda Bunko Library (IKBYS below) and Waseda University Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum (WAS below). Otherwise, only a few others are held in private collections.

References: IKBYS-II, no. 350; WAS-4, no. 532; IKB, no. 2-439; KNP-6, p. 299