Actor triptychs and diptychs

 

 

Kuniyoshi designed hundreds of triptychs and diptychs of kabuki actors.  Titles of  Edo era kabuki plays are problematic because of the lack of copyright laws.  Successful productions were performed in different theaters with various titles, and popular characters often reappeared in entirely different plays.  Prints depicting identifiable productions can be dated from theater records.  Date seals started appearing on prints in 2nd intercalary month* of 1852, but there is occasionally a one month discrepancy between the seals and theater records.  Undoubtedly, some of the single sheets were never part of a diptych or triptych.  Unless otherwise noted, the individual panels are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.  Additional kabuki prints may be found in the section, Polyptychs of four or more sheets.  I am grateful to Ward Pieters for assisting with this section.

 

Prints identified as to performance and/or month

1815 - 1830

1831

1832

1833

1834

1835

1836

1837

1838

1839

1840

1841

1842

Actor prints were banned by the “Tenpô reforms”.

1846

1847

1848

1849

1850

1851

1852

1853

1854

1855-1856

Actors off stage

 

 

Unidentified prints

1815-1846

Prints published between 1815 and the 11th month of 1846 generally bear a single circular censor’s seal without an oval date seal.

1846-1852

Prints published between the 12th month of 1846 and the 2nd month of 1852 generally bear two circular censor’s seals without an oval date seal.

1853-1857

Prints published between the 12th month of 1853 and the 11th month of 1857 generally bear a single circular censor’s seal reading aratame (, inspected) and an oval date seal.

 

*an extra month inserted between the 2nd and 3rd months in the same manner as an extra day is added to a leap year 

 

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