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Archive: Sadanobu (貞信)

Nakamura Utaemon IV dressing for the role of Kô no Moronao in the play Kanadehon chûshingura, Naka Theater,
Hasegawa Sadanobu
No artist seal
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei: 天満屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
38.0 x 25.4 cm
Good color and condition (embossing; very slight fading, but the fugitive purple still present; humidity stains along right side)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: SDN25


Kanadehon chûshingura (Writing manual for the treasury of the loyal retainers: 假名手本忠臣蔵; often called The Forty-seven Rônin) is one of the great kabuki plays and is still performed today. In Act III, the villain of the saga, Kô no Moronao, lord of Kamakura, is angered when Enya Hangan, lord of Asano, arrives late for a ceremony. Moronao taunts Enya, provoking him into drawing his sword and slashing Moronao, an offence punishable by death. In Act IV, Enya commits seppuku ("incision of the abdomen": 切腹), leaving behind his now masterless samurai (rônin: 浪人) who vow to take revenge, and thus the stage is set for the remainder of this celebrated revenge story (adauchi mono: 仇打ち物).


One of Sadanobu's most sought-after designs, especially as it depicts the actor Nakamura Utaemon IV in his dressing room as he prepares to enact the role on stage. This was a farewell production after Utaemon announced he was leaving Osaka for Edo (after a wage dispute). He performed seven of the roles in the play, a well documented tour-de-force in the kabuki annals. The inscription at the top right reads Onagori kyôgen no uchi (Set [of prints] for a farewell play: 御名残狂言の内).

See Dean Schwaab, Osaka Prints, no. 181 for another impression.