Very little is known about the 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.
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).
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 of affection" in the play title involves a courtesan (けいせい, keisei) and her lover.
Barely a dozen designs are known by Toyohide, and impressions are very difficult to find, even more so in good condition, as here. 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.
For another scene from this kabuki production, see SDH09.
References: IKBYS-III, no. 216; OSP, p. 190, no. 195