Nishimura Shigenobu (Magosaburō)
Matsumoto Kōshirō II as Yamana Sōzen and Ichimura Manzō as Ikazuchi Tsurunosuke

Signed: eshi Nishimura Magosaburō hitsu; Publisher: Motoya Ōdenma sanchōme Maruya and (logo) yama (Maruya Kōhei); hosoban, 31.2 x 15.4 cm; urushi-e

A reworked version of a print by Shigenobu. The head of the actor on the right, as well as the crests and the names of the actors, were re-inserted into the printing block, a common practice in ukiyo-e. In the foreground Manzō as the sumō wrestler Ikazuchi Tsurunosuke with a lightning pattern (ikazuchi) on his kimono representing his family name. Kōshirō is playing the role of Yamana Sōzen.

Geyger, inv.no.16379 (KG p.106 / KGE p.112)

Nishimura Magosaburô (Nishimura Shigenobu, active ca. 1730- after 1740): there has been some confusion surrounding this artist, because various scholars believed it possible to prove that Shigenobu was an earlier name of Ishikawa Toyonobu. In the meantime, this problem seems to excite less interest, or has at least been deferred, so that for the present we can regard Shigenobu as an independent artist in his own right. What we really know about him is little enough. His style follows that of his teacher Nishimura, Shigenaga, without adopting the latter’s pictorial innovations; indeed one could perhaps identify a return to the stylistic means of a somewhat earlier time.

Nishimura’s name as an artist was Magosaburô from 1731, and Shigenobu from 1737/38 to about 1740.

This leaf is an altered version of a woodblock by Shigenobu, which shows the two actors Sanjô, Kantarô as Nagoya, Sanza and Ogino, Izaburô as Fuwa, Banzaemon in a theatre play dealing with the fate of the former. This original version will be discussed first. It is to be found in the Ainsworth Collection, Oberlin, Ohio. Two men are having a fierce argument in front of a garden fence. Fuwa, Banzaemon (in the foreground) insults Nagoya, Sanza who seems to have been stopped in his tracks, as if stricken by a bolt of lightening. He clenches his left fist in a gesture of suppressed anger. His opponent Fuwa, Banzaemon almost steps on a lantern lying on the ground which bears the inscription “Nagoya.” The sandal which he is holding in his aggressively raised hand belongs to a third person, not shown in the print, Sanza’s fiancée Koshimoto Iwahashi. The patterns on Izaburô (Banzaemon)’s kimono represent shafts of lightening (ikazuchi). On his black haori only his mon is left blank. Kantarô’s kimono is decorated with folded umbrellas, which are actually motifs from the Sukeroku play. His checked haori display his butterfly crest. This dramatic print was used by Shigenobu a second time for the woodblock print discussed here by the same publisher. But here the youthful head of Kantarô has been removed and replaced with the head of a horrible, white-haired, white-bearded old man. The crests on the robes of the two figures have been exchanged. The crest of Ogino, Izaburô has been replaced by the orange blossoms of Ichimura, Manzô (Uzaemon IX), while the crest of Sanjô, Kantarô has been replaced by the crest of Matsumoto, Kôshirô II. But trouble was not even taken to alter the ornamentation of the robes or the name on the paper lantern. Thus the woodblock print suddenly comes to depict a new theatrical performance which it is even possible to identify. Ichimura, Uzaemon IX appears as the sumô wrestler with the name Ikazuchi, Tsurunosuke. Thus the robe patterning “ikazuchi” becomes his family name. Danjûrô IV plays the Yamana, Sôzen. The title of the play, which was performed in the eight month of 1744 at the Ichimura-za, namely Kaibyaku Imagawa-jô, can be connected with one of the earliest Kabuki plays. The jôruri play Imagawa-monogatari was reworked as a play in two acts for Kabuki. The performance of this drama in 1664 heralded the beginning of Kabuki plays having several acts.

The play shows the deeds of the hero Imagawa, Toshihide, who after being rescued from the most desperate need, takes revenge on those responsible for his ruin. A version performed in 1699 is analyzed in depth by Barth. The new, substituted head also introduces other associations.

A similar hairstyle as the one for Yamana, Sôzen is worn, for example, by the Tengu King, ruler of the winged, long-nosed wood spirits. This description fits that of the adversary of the Sukeroku in the famous version of the Soga Vendetta created by Danjûrô II (1713-1749). Torii, Kiyomitsu on a benizuri-e from the period around 1760, shows the actor Sakata, Hangorô in the role of Satsushima, Hyôgo, as an old man with long white hair and a white beard. Such alterations to the woodblock and the ensuing changes in identification are known elsewhere in Ukiyo-e. The example discussed illustrates this procedure particularly clearly.