Hakuen II was the temporary acting name of the Edo superstar Ichikawa Danjûrô VII (1791-1859), who performed briefly in Osaka after fires destroyed all three theaters in Edo in 3/1829. His appearance in Osaka caused quite a sensation, and fans filled the theaters to watch him perform. The name Hakuen was first used on the kabuki stage by his grandfather, Danjûrô V, in the premiere of Date kurabe Okuni kabuki (The Date rivalry as Okuni kabuki: 伊達競阿國劇場) in 1778. The play was one of the Date sôdô mono (Date family-troubles plays) featuring various retellings of sagas involving the Date clan of Sendai in Ôshû, beginning in the 1660s when the daimyô Tsunamune was forced to retire. Some of the theatrical dramatizations had fantastical subplots, such as the one central to Date kurabe Okuni kabuki, when the usurper Nikki Danjô, endowed with magical powers, plots to overthrow the clan leader Ashikaga Yorikane.
This design is titled Shichi yaku no uchi (Set of seven roles: 七役の内, a hayagawari (quick-change techniques: 早替り) from the theatrical genre known as henge-mono (transformation pieces: 変化物) perfromed by a single actor, thus a tour-de-force in kabuki productions. Shigenao's portrait depicts Hakuen in two of these roles (portraying the same actor in two or more roles on one sheet was a common practice in ukiyo-e print design).
Note that Tanizô's blue robe is patterned with a rebus for a popular expression of the period, kamawanu ("It doesn't matter"), composed of sickles (kama), circles (wa: 輪), and hiragana characters for nu (ぬ). Kamawanu was used as a motif for a repeat pattern in textile designs for men. It was also closely associated with Ichikawa Danjûrô VII and appeared occasionally on the costumes of other kabuki actors, for example, in the role of Soga no Gorô from the aragoto-style ("rough stuff": 荒事) dance play Kongen kusazuribiki (Origin of the armor pulling) from 1/1814. The use of the motif extended beyond clothing to include hair accessories, towels, and tableware.
The signature reads Shigeharu monjin Shigenao ga (Drawn by Shigenao, student of Shigeharu).
This website has sold two impressions of another design by Shigenao (Nobukatsu) depicting Hakuen in the same production of this play in 8/1829 (NKS01 and NKS02).
References: KNP-6, p. 215; SDK, no. 520; HSK, no. 129