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 1685 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