Torii Kiyomitsu I
The Actor Sawamura Sōjūrō II as Kudō Suketsune in a Soga Drama
c. 1760

Signed: Torii Kiyomitsu hitsu; Publisher’s seal: Ōgiya hanmoto; hoso-ban, 30.5 x 14.0 cm; benizuri-e

Scene out of one of the many Soga plays in which Sōjūrō plays Kudō, the villain in the story of the Soga brothers. Standing in front of an empty backdrop, Sōjūrō is supporting himself on a standing zither(koto), on which his left hand is resting. The haiku begins with “jitsuaku”, the designation for actors specialized in playing the villain: “The villain is / like the wind on a sunny day/ under the cherry trees.”

Provenance: A.Lemp, Zurich (1960)12
Riese Collection #14

Since Sōjūrō performed the role of Kudō, the villain in the legend of the Soga brothers every year between 1760 and 1765, it would be impossible to date this print exactly unless other hosoban portraits of actors in roles from the same play could be found. The poem, which begins with the word used for actors who specialised in villainous or unpleasant roles, reads:

Jitsuaku wa
kaze to hiyori no

A true villain
Is the wind on a sunny day
Amid the cherry blossoms.

Reproduced in Ingelheim catalogue, no. 26.