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Archive: Sadamasu 貞升 (later called Kunimasu 國升)

Kataoka Gadô II, Gakuya sugata (Appearing in the dressing room: 楽屋姿); Print Title: Tôsei keshô kagami (Contemporary make-up mirrors: 當世化粧鏡)
Gochôtei Sadamasu ga (五蝶亭貞升)
No artist seal
Honsei (Honya Seishichi: 本屋清七)
c. 1840-1841
(H x W)
Deluxe ôban nishiki-e
38.1 x 26 .0cm
Very good
Excellent color and overall condition, unbacked; a handful of repaired wormholes, mostly near edges
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: KMS30


Kataoka Gadô II (二代目片岡我童), 1810-1863, performed in Kamigata under a series of names. The first three names were used prior to 1833: Ichikawa Shinnosuke (held while under the tutlege of the Edo superstar and adoptive father Ichikawa Danjûrô VII); Mimasu Iwagorô (used after quarreling with Danjûrô VII and leaving the Ichikawa family); and Arashi Kitsujirô (used after becoming a disciple of the Kamigata star Arashi Rikan II). Then in 1833, he took the name Kataoka Gatô I (after being adopted by Kataoka Nizaemon VII, whose haimyô or poetry name was Gatô). In 1839 he became Kataoka Gadô II (Gadô was another haimyô used by Kataoka Nizaemon VII), and finally, in 1857, he ascended to the name Kataoka Nizaemon VIII (his mentor having died 20 years earlier, the name lineage had remained unclaimed). In his final time on the stage, he reverted to Gadô II (10/1862 to 2/1862).

Gadô II's crest was a circle enclosing two horizontal bars, which can be seen on the tenugui (cotton towel: 手ぬぐい).

Early during his mature period, Gadô II specialized in nimaime (young lover roles: 二枚目). Other types of roles for which he was praised included jitsugotoshi (righteous men: 実事師), katakiyaku (villains: 敵役), and, late in his career, oyajigata (old men: 親仁方). From time to time he also performed as onnagata (female roles: 女方 or 女形). He acted mostly in Kamigata, but did spend the years 1854-1861 performing successfully in Edo before finally returning to Osaka.


Portraits within roundels were part of a vogue for such compositions representing both kagami: (mirrors: 鏡) of actors and telescopic views modeled after imported Western scopic instruments. Another influence might have been the tenjômaku: ("ceiling curtains": 天井幕) with roundel portraits painted on cloths that were presented to actors. Here we see a roundel, surrounded by flowers, in which the reflection of Kataoka Gadô II shows him toweling off in his dressing room.

Images of actors offstage were endlessly fascinating to kabuki fans who idolized their favorite actors. They also yearned to collect intimate views of these cultural and entertainment icons, coveting not only scenes from performances, but also the much rarer images of actors backstage, either preparing for, or resting after, a performance. Views of actors on outings away from the theaters, including picnicking or visiting temples and shrines, were also very popular.

Sadamasu (Kunimasu) designed several ôban-format ôkubi-e (lit., "large head" or close-up bust portraits: 大首絵) that are difficult to obtain, including this example.

Note: For another backstage view, see ANO04.

References: Sadamasu web page