Sao no uta Kizugawa hakkei (Song of the boat pole: Eight views of the Kizu River: 棹歌木津川八景), written by the Osaka-born playwright Namiki Gohei I (1747-1808), premiered in 7/1778 when he was already a leading Osaka dramaturge. Gohei also worked in Edo starting in 1794, where he commanded a large annual salary of 300 ryô. He introduced various theatrical techniques and interpretations from Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka) into Edo plays, in those instances modifying Edo performance style. It appears that the plot of Sao no uta Kizugawa hakkei remains unknown to present-day scholars.
Jitsukawa Enzaburô I (1813-1867; 初代目実川延三郎), born in Kyoto, was a highly skilled tachiyaku (leading man: 立役) on the Osaka stage. He took the name Jitsukawa in 1833, thereby founding the Jistukawa acting family. By 1848 his ranking in a Kamigata yakusha hyôbanki (actor evaluation book: 役者評判記) was jô-jô-kichi (superior - superior - excellent), and by 1853 shi-jô-jô-kichi (unique - superior - superior - excellent). Enzaburô continued to rise in the rankings so by 1859 he was hakudai-jô-jô-kichi (almost grand - superior - superior - excellent), in 1861 dai-jô-jô-kichi (grand - superior - superior - excellent), in 1865 hakugoku-jô-jô-kichi (almost extreme - superior - superior - excellent), and finally, in 1866, goku-jô-jô-kichi (extreme - superior - superior - excellent). In 1865 he took the name Jitsukawa Gakujûrô II. He died in Osaka on the 22nd day of the second lunar month of 1867.
The print is titled with the role name, Kizu Kansuke (木津勘助), in the tri-color cartouche at the upper right. The actor's name, Jitsukawa Enzaburô (実川延三郎) is inscribed with gold-color brass against the black sky.
The dramatically curving form of the boat provides an effective pictorial foreground frame for the tachimawari (lit., "standing and going around," a choreographed fight scene: 立回り) between Kizu Kansuke and an adversary. A scene along the banks of the Kizu River with crowds of people and boats can be seen within the cusped cloud at the upper left.
This is a finely printed example with metallic pigments and saturated colors.
References: HSH, p. 33, no. 124