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Actor Nakamura Gentaro as Takiguchi's Wife Shinonome

Torii Kiyonobu I

Asian Art

A sign painter by training, Torii Kiyonobu I was one of the first artists to design actor prints. Such early prints consisted of a single woodblock impression in black.

The subject of this print, the actor Nakamura Gentarō, was an onnagata, or specialist in playing female roles. Although Kabuki began with all-female casts, in 1629 the Japanese government prohibited women from participating because their presence onstage was considered too erotic. However, substituting men for women did little to quell audience infatuations. As a result, onnagatas became popular with both potential suitors and followers of fashion.
MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES circa 1702
    PERIOD Edo Period
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm) Image: 20 1/8 x 12 1/4 in. (51.1 x 31.1 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Two collectors' seals at lower right: Wakai Shisei zo (this is the seal of Sekine Shichibei)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Louis V. Ledoux
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large Sumi-e Definitive Catalogue No.: Ledoux Catalogue, Vol. I, no. 7, reproduced.. Condition: Good, slight foxing at lower right corner; horizontal splice 85mm from lower edge of paper. The Actor Nakamura Gentaro is documented as having played Shinome at the Ichimura theater in the 11th month of 1702, in the drama "Yorimacha Horaizan." He was a wakaonnagata, or actor who specialized in playing young women, especially princesses. The part of Takiguchi, the husband, was played by Ikushima Shingoro.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Torii Kiyonobu I (Japanese, 1664–1729). Actor Nakamura Gentaro as Takiguchi's Wife Shinonome, circa 1702. Woodblock print, Sheet: 28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Louis V. Ledoux, 48.15.10 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 48.15.10_IMLS_PS3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 48.15.10_IMLS_PS3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    Torii Kiyonobu I (Japanese, 1664–1729). <em>Actor Nakamura Gentaro as Takiguchi's Wife Shinonome</em>, circa 1702. Woodblock print, Sheet: 28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Louis V. Ledoux, 48.15.10 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 48.15.10_IMLS_PS3.jpg)