A pupil of Kuniyoshi, who despite the innovations and new subject matters and styles brought on by the Meiji period continued to practice a fairly traditional style of ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e artists were often commissioned to execute portraits of kabuki actors in some of their most famous and popular roles. These portraits served as advertisements of an upcoming performance and as souvenirs for fans of kabuki, who would often loudly shout and cheer when one of their favorite actors struck a particularly dramatic and expressive pose (mie). Like many professions in Japan, acting was often a family tradition, thus like some ukiyo-e artists, actors would take the name of their predecessor and simply add a number to mark their position in the line of succession. The scoundrel in this case is the lead in a popular Kabuki play of the Edo period written by Kawatake Mokuami (1816â€“ 1893). The role demands a wide range for an actor who must transform from a young maiden into a rough criminal.
8.5 x 17 inches. Lithograph. Nude and robed women in bathhouse.