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Archive: Yoshikuni and Ashiyuki

(R) Nakamura Shikan II and (L) Arashi Rikan II in a non-theatrical scene, actors enjoying a cool evening, Osaka
(R) Toyokawa Yoshikuni ga (L) Gigadô Ashiyuki ga
No artist seals
Honsei (Honya Seishichi: 本屋清七)
Circa late-1820s
(H x W)
Ôban diptych nishiki-e
39.0 x 53.8 cm
Excellent color, very good condition (unbacked; a few very light creases and stains; rubbed and thinned along edges; two expertly repaired wormholes)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: YSK13 


Portrayals of actors in private life are a relative rarity in Edo printmaking, but even more so in Osaka. Yoshikuni's and Ashiyuki's diptych provides an uncommon glimpse into the off-stage activities of Osaka's pop-culture icons. Each of the red cartouches includes a phrase after the actor names informing us about the scene: somen nôryô no zu (lit., picture of uncovered faces enjoying the cool of the evening: 素面納涼之圖). "Uncovered faces" is a metaphor for actors without their makeup.

This composition is a gassaku (collective or shared work: 合作) by two of the leading artists of the period.


Shikan II and Riikan II are dressed in summer robes patterned with their mon (crests: 紋). Shikan holds an uchiwa (rigid fan: 團扇 or 団扇) painted with bamboo, Rikan an ôgi (folding fan: 扇) bearing his tachibana (mandarin orange blossom crest: 橘). Each wears geta (clogs: 下駄). A table with picnic wares, including a teapot over a small charcoal stove, can be seen on the right sheet. Note that the coloration of the birds echoes the respective hues in the kimono for each actor.


References: WB, no. V1