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Archive: Sadayoshi (貞芳)

Toban tabinaka no zu (View of traveling the road up to the capital: 登板旅中之圖) with an inset view of Mt Fuji (富士山);
Nakamura Shikan II (中村芝翫 = earlier stage name for Nakamura Utaemon IV) on the road to Edo
Gohyôtei Sadayoshi ga (五瓢亭貞芳画)
No artist seal
Kawaji (河治) & Oki (置) [the name ”Oki” is taken from the family name, Tamaoki, of the pub. Honya Seishichi = Honsei)]
(H x W)
ôban nishiki-e
37.0 x 25.5 cm
Very good
Excellent color, unbacked; filled album binding holes along left edge
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry (Ref #SDY14)


In 1/1838, Nakamura Utaemon IV (named Shikan II on the print, which was his earlier acting name until 1/1836) was involved in a wage dispute with the management of the Naka Theater, Osaka. Outraged by that turn of events, he decided to leave Osaka for the kabuki theaters in Edo. So in the first month, he gave farewell performances for his Osaka fans. Then, having fulfilled his contract, Utaemon IV, along with the actors Arashi San'emon IX, Nakamura Tsuruzô I, Nakamura Kan'emon, Nakamura Tsurugorô, Nakamura Komasuke, Nakamura Kaei and Asao Okuyama, all traveled together to Edo. Utaemon IV did not resume acting in Osaka until more than a decade later (in 1/1850).


Sadayoshi's design shows Shikan II smoking a pipe and standing by a kago (lit., "vehicle basket," or palanquin, 駕籠) while traveling to Edo (i.e., he is not performing a role in a kabuki play). The inset depicting Mt. Fuji reveals the influence of the Edo master Katsushika Hokusai whose works were well known in Kamigata (Osaka-Kyoto region).

The gourd-shaped red cartouche at the top right is outlined in yellow with stylized hiragana for "Yoshi" (よし), the second part of the artist's geimei or art name.

No other impression is recorded in the main literature, although two other impressions have been offered by ukiyo-e dealers during the last few years. In any case, designs of actors away from the stage are decidedly uncommon in Osaka prints, and very popular among collectors, scholars, and museum curators.