Kataoka Gadô II (二代目片岡我童), 1810-1863, performed in Kamigata under a series of names. The first three names were used prior to 1833: Ichikawa Shinnosuke (held while under the tutlege of the Edo superstar and adoptive father Ichikawa Danjûrô VII); Mimasu Iwagorô (used after quarreling with Danjûrô VII and leaving the Ichikawa family); and Arashi Kitsujirô (used after becoming a disciple of the Kamigata star Arashi Rikan II). Then in 1833, he took the name Kataoka Gatô I (after being adopted by Kataoka Nizaemon VII, whose haimyô or poetry name was Gatô). In 1839 he became Kataoka Gadô II (Gadô was another haimyô used by Kataoka Nizaemon VII), and finally, in 1857, he ascended to the name Kataoka Nizaemon VIII (his mentor having died 20 years earlier, the name lineage had remained unclaimed). In his final time on the stage, he reverted to Gadô II (10/1862 to 2/1862).
Very little is known about this artist Toyohide. His family name was Kitagawa, and he also used the geimei (art names: 芸名) Ichiryûtei and Isshintei. He was active a few years before and a year after the start of the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô Reforms: 天保改革) of 1842, edicts that virtually halted print production in Osaka for five years. Toyohide's prints date from 1838 to 1843. Occasionally his signature appears within a toshidama-style cartouche ("New Year's jewel" or "New Year's gift," a type of year seal used as the crest of the Utagawa school of artists), suggesting a connection with the Edo-based artist Utagawa Kunisada (歌川國貞 later Toyokuni III 豊國 1786-1865), although his use of "Toyo" (豊) in his name precedes Kunisada's taking of the Toyokuni name in 1844 and thus suggests to some scholars that Toyohide might have had a connection with Utagawa Toyokuni I (歌川豊國 1769-1825) more than a decade before Toyohide's first known prints.
Toyohide's documented designs, which number only around 17, are infrequently encountered, even more so with very good color, as here. He worked most often with the publisher Honya Seisichi 本屋清七 (Honsei, 本清), producing 10 works, and primarly with three different theaters (Kado, Naka, Onishi). All but one design depict full-length figures (all ôban or "large" format, 大判), while a single chûban (中判) ôkubi-e ("large head" or bust portrait, 大首絵) is known.
The plot of the play Keisei satsumagushi (A pledge of affection and a wife's comb: 契情狭妻櫛 is unknown to us. The Japanese title is sometimes also given as けいせい狭妻櫛, which might suggest the pledge involves a courtesan (けいせい, keisei).
Provenance: This impression was formerly in the Okada Isajiro (岡田伊三次郎) Collection, a celebrated Japanese compilation (featured in Kuroda Genji's 1929 Kamigata-e ichiran, Review of Kamigata Pictures) that was thought to have been lost until its miraculous reappearance and subsequent gradual dispersal starting in the year 2000.
The animated composition relies in part on the strong diagonal established by the cresting waves, à la Hokusai, in opposition to the slanting metallic rain.
References: IKBYS-III, no. 216; OSP, p. 190, no. 195