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Archive: Masunobu (升信); earlier name Kiyosada (清貞)

Nakamura Utaemon IV on his way from Edo to Osaka, showing the actor's dôchû tabi sugata (appearance along the journey: 道中旅姿), 11/1849, chûban nishiki-e
Masunobu (升信)
No artist seal
Matsuki (松喜)
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
25.0 x 18.0 cm
Excellent, with embossing
Excellent color and very good condition, unbacked; light vertical creases, album crease in L margin, spots in margins
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: MSN01


Masunobu (升信) was a student of Sadamasu (Kunimasu). He used the (art name) Ittôsai and was active only a short time, c. 1849-1853. His earlier art name was Kiyosada (清貞).

In the first month of 1838, Utaemon IV was involved in a wage dispute with the management of the Naka Theater, and he shocked his many fans by deciding to leave abruptly for Edo (he would not return to Osaka for more than a decade). For his farewell performance, Utaemon played seven key Chûshingura roles in an impressive hengemono ("transformation piece: 変化物) due to its varied cast of characters and the duration of its eleven acts. It all amounted to a bravura performance and a grand farewell to Utaemon's devoted fans.


Utaemon IV, adorned in a stylish traveling kimono, is depicted returning to Osaka from Edo for the new theatrical season, his first appearance in that city since the infamous 1838 spat. Here he is shown refilling his kiseru (smoking pipe: 烟管) with tobacco, a most unusual subject for a yakusha-e (actor print: 役者絵) published in Kamigata.

This appears to be a previously unrecorded design.