N.1 ukiyo-e woodblock print
Year: 1877
Condition: very good
Size: 24 x 36 cm



Fascinating original woodblock print made in January 1877 by the artist Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周) and depicting Akatsuki Hoshigoro (暁星五郎), the larger-than-life bandit who operated in the Kanto (関東) and Kansai (関西) areas using his “fire magic” to harass daimyo (大名) retainers. Hoshigoro, the stage name of a theatrical character inspired by a real-life underworld figure named Shirasu Shozaemon (白須庄左衛門), is presented here, in the interpretation of the actor Sadanji Ichikawa (市川左團次), with a demonic bat-shaped hood.

The work, produced by the publisher Kobayashi Tetsujiro (小林鉄次郎), is taken from the “Twenty-four Examples of the New Civilization” (開化廿四好), an interesting and rare series in which the artist pairs kabuki portraits with small scenes presenting modern inventions or modernized activities from the Meiji era (明治時代): in this case the theme is that of the raincover/parasol and the pairing is between the aforementioned headcovering and the koomorigasa (こうもり傘), literally the “bat umbrella”, visible in the upper right corner inset, made by the artist Hayakawa Shozan (早川松山).

The print is in very good general condition, thanks also to an effective relining carried out on the back with another sheet of Japanese washi paper (和紙).