The play Keisei somewake tazuna (A courtesan's reins dyed in different colors), written by Naka Harusuke and the actor Nakamura Utaemon III (under
his pen name Kanazawa Ryûgyoko), was adapted, as were quite a number of other plays, from Koi nyôbô somewake tazuna (Love and
a wife's reins dyed in different colors; 1751). The earlier play was itself a revision of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's Tanba yosaku matsuyo no komuro bushi.
This is a collaborative work — Hokushû designed the right sheet and Kunihiro the left.
The figures are set within a compositional style called uki-e ("floating picture"), that is, a perspective view. As was often the case
in ukiyo-e of this and earlier periods, the drawing of receding space does not strictly adhere to the Western model of a single vanishing point.
Most artists had an incomplete understanding of the principles of perspective, but they and the print-buying public were fascinated by images in which
the foreground figures seemed to "float" before middle and distant architectural or landscape elements.
Kuranosuke wears a formal divided skirt or pleated trousers with long trailing legs called a nagahakama, worn over kimono intended to make movement
difficult in samurai mansions and castles, possibly to hinder escape or limit fighting. In kabuki they often facilitated rather dramatic poses (mie).
Kuranosuke's nagahakama is decorated with stylized clouds and lightening bolts.
See HKS11 for another scene from this same production.
References: IKBYS-I, no. 113; KNP-6, p. 85