Utagawa Toyokuni II (二代目歌川豊国) (artist 1777 – 1835)
Bandō Mitsugorō III, under his poetry name Bandō Shūka (坂東秀桂), from the series Actors Compared to Flowers (Yakusha hana awase - 役者花合)
10.125 in x 14.75 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Echizenya Kihei
(Marks 047 - seal closest to 01-052)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Vegder's blog - a discussion of the toshidama motif
Victoria and Albert Museum - another print from this series - Nakamura Shikan? We know of three different prints from this series featuring prominent artists. Each is accompanied by a floral flourish at the top. The one featuring a member of the Nakamura clan appears to be a camelia or tsubaki, a symbol of springtime. There is also one of an onnagata.
If we can unlock the secret significance of the choice of flowers we might be able to figure out how many prints there were in this series.
Bandō Mitsugorō is portrayed under his poetry name within a large black toshidama below dramatically oxidized orchids.
There are 5 other prints in the Lyon Collection showing actors portraits enclosed by large toshidama motifs. Those are by Toyokuni III and were created about thirty plus years after this example. (See Lyon Collection #s 1573-1577).
There is said to be another copy of this print in the collection of Shindō Shigeru (新藤茂).
Lawrence Bickford argued mistakenly, in our opinion, ad nauseum, in the pages of Andon that this and other prints now attributed to Toyokuni II were actually by Kunisada. He did this despite a spate of other scholars and collectors who said he was wrong.
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Echizenya Kihei (越前屋喜兵隊) (publisher)
Bandō Mitsugorō III (三代目坂東三津五郎: 11/1799 to 12/1831) (actor)