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Archive: Sadamasu 貞升 (later called Kunimasu 國升)

(R) Kataoka Ichizô I as Akechi Mitsuhide and (L) Ichikawa Morinosuke as Akechi Jûjirô in Toki wa ima kikyô no hataage at the Wakadayû no Shibai, Osaka
No artist seal
No publisher seal
(H x W)
Deluxe chûban diptych nishiki-e
25.3 x 36.0 cm
Excellent deluxe edition with metallic pigments and burnishing
Excellent color (backed, joined, a single filled pinhole on each sheet, two horizontal natural paper creases at top of R sheet, brass pigment half rubbed off in lower right corner of L sheet)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: KMS22


Toki wa ima kikyô no hataage is a five-act jidaimono (lit., "period piece" or historical drama: 時代物) written by Tsuruya Namboku IV (1755-1829) and first performed in 1808 at the Ichimura-za, Edo under the title Toki mo kikyô shusse no ukejô, which was changed in the Meiji period to Toki wa ima kikyô no hataage. Based on actual events, the play is one of the Taikôki mono ("plays about the meritorious prince"), jidaimono concerning the civil wars of the late sixteenth century and the ascension of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (in this drama called Mashiba Hisayoshi), who ruled Japan from 1585 to 1603, until he was finally defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Toki wa ima Kikyô no hataage depicts the events preceding the rebellion of Akechi Mitsuhide against Oda Harunaga (i.e., Oda Nobunaga), the primary unifier of Japan. In 1582 Nobunaga was wounded by Mitsuhide at Honnô-ji, Kyoto, and then committed suicide (or by another account, perished inside the burning temple). Mitsuhide was tracked down and killed by Hideyoshi less than two weeks later, earning Mitsuhide the derisive posthumous nickname of jûsan-kobû ("thirteen-day shogun").


Sadamasu's design is one of only a small number of chûban-format actor prints issued in the year before the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô Reforms: 天保改革), which banned the publication of actor prints in 7/1842.

The printing of these two sheets is superb. It's no wonder that this diptych is featured in Schwaab, no. 190, and also in van Doesburg, no. 90 (full page color). Our impressions are better preserved than those illustrated in Schwaab.

References: IKBYS-III, no. 132; OSP, no. 190; OK, no. 90; NKE, p. 653