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Shigeharu (重春)

Description:
(1R) Ichikawa Ebizô V (市川海老蔵) as Akitsushima (秋津島); (2R) Nakamura Shikan II (中村芝翫) as Onigadake (鬼ケだけ) in Sekitori nidai kagami (関取二代鑑), Kado Theater, Osaka
Signature:
Ryûsai Shigeharu ga (柳齋重春画)
Seals:
No artist seal
Publisher:
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei 天満屋喜兵衛)
Date:
3/1834
Format:
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e diptych
37.4 x 51.5 cm
Impression:
Excellent
Condition:
Very good impression and color (slight trimming; some rubbing in lower areas, slight creases, glue residue on verso)
Price (USD/¥):
$475 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: SGH51

Comments:
Background

We have so far been unable to identify the plot of this play, Sekitori nidai kagami ("Mirror of the second-generation wrestler": 関取二代鑑). It appears to related to an Edo production titled Sekitori nidai no shôbuzuke (Champion sumô wrestlers victorious in two generations: 関取二代勝負附), whichi included the roles of the wrestlers Onigadake Dôemon (鬼ヶ嶽洞右衛門) and Akitsushima Kuniemon (秋津島國右衛門).

Both plays might have been related to yet another drama, Sekitori senryô nobori (Rise of the 1,000 ryô wrestler: 関取千両幟), written in nine acts by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725-83) and others for the ningyô jôruri (puppet theater: 人形淨瑠璃), premiering in 8/1767 at the Takemoto Theater, Osaka. The first kabuki performance in Osaka might have been in 8/1775 at the Kado Theater. In fact, according to a surviving tsuji banzuke (advance publicity playbill posted at intersections: 辻番付) now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Acc #11.28371), a production in Edo at the Ichimura-za in 5/1835 had both Sekitori senryô nobori and Sekitori nidai no shôbuzuke on the same program, presumably to offer playgoers a rare opportunity to compare the dramas in a single (very long) day.

In Sekitori senryô nobori, two patrons of rival wrestlers attempt to raise money to ransom a beautiful courtesan, Nishikigi of the Osakaya, so they wager on a match between their wrestlers. Tetsugadake Dazaemon, fearing he will lose, asks Iwagawa Jirokichi to throw the match in exchange for his help in raising the money for Iwagawa's patron. As this would guarantee the rescue of Nishikigi, Iwagawa agrees. His wife Otowa learns of the plot, however, and cannot accept that her husband would ruin his reputation for his patron. She therefore raises the money in secret by the only means available — selling herself to a brothel. As the wrestling match is about to begin, Iwagawa is told that an anonymous source has provided the money. He is therefore free to compete unfettered, defeat his opponent, and capture his ranking. After his victory, he is shocked to learn that the donor was his wife Otowa.

Design

In a design by Utagawa Hiroshige for Sekitori nidai kagami in his series Chûkô adauchi zue (Pictures of loyalty and vengeance: 忠孝仇討圖繪) circa 1844-45, Onigatake holds a sandal above a seated Akitsushima, preparing to hit him — such an act of aggression would have been a nasty insult and a clear challenge to Akitsushima's honor. In Shigeharu's diptych, Akitsushima holds the offending sandal as he pulls up his sleeve in a gesture of determination to exact revenge. Presumably, the two will meet later to settle the score.

The three figures behind Onigatake might be his sumô assistants. Note the bolts of expensive cloth on benches and the saké keg in the background on a raise area.

This impression has strong colors with the purple on Onigadake's robe nicely preserved.

References:SDK, no. 265