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The Actor Nakamura Nakazō II as Matsuōmaru

Utagawa Kunimasa Japanese

Not on view

In this dramatic composition, the whitened face of the actor Nakamura Nakazō II (1759–1796) with bold red stripes of make-up fills a large part of the compositional space. His costume’s abstract patterning contributes to the powerful effect. Nakazō’s crossed eyes indicate a climactic moment in the Kabuki drama, when the actor knots his energy and movements into a frozen pose called a mie. Over his shoulder he wields a white umbrella that becomes a crucial prop in the “carriage-stopping” episode of the iconic play Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy (Sugawara denju tenarai kagami). This print and the one next to it (Dirks.177) commemorate a performance held in the seventh month of 1796 at the Miyako theater in Edo.

The Actor Nakamura Nakazō II as Matsuōmaru, Utagawa Kunimasa (Japanese, 1773–1810), Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper; vertical ōban, Japan

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