Seki Sanjuro as Tamasho (right), Onoe Kikugoro III as Hikoso (centre) and Segawa Kikunojo V as Kokin (left), in Hana-gumori sato no geta-kasa (Clogs and umbrellas in Yoshiwara on a cloudy day amidst cherry blossoms) performed at the Nakamura Theatre in 03/1824

Private collection (565)

Nakamura Shikan II departing for Osaka
This triptych captures the interplay between the three characters at a climactic moment in the play. The text around them records their dialogue in the scene, revealing that the geisha Kokin and her lover Hikoso are making their escape from the licensed quarters. Tamasho tries to dissuade couple from taking such a tragic course of action. In the mid 1820s there was a brief vogue for filling the background of half-length and full-figure actor portraits with extended texts (see also the diptych included in this exhibition). This device was derived from inexpensive, illustrated popular novels, in which text filled all the space around the figures. Kunisada was an experienced illustrator of such novels and often drew the characters with actorsí features.

© The Fitzwilliam Museum