Ippitsusai Bunchō
als Ochiyo und Ichikawa Komazō I als ihr Mann Yaoya Hanbei, 1771 | Yamashita Kinsaku II as Ochiyo and Ichikawa Komazō I as her Husband Yaoya Hanbei

Signed: Ippitsusai Bunchō ga, artist’s seal: Mori uji; hosoban, 31.0 x 14.2 cm; nishiki-e with karazuri

Depicted here is the kabuki play Oborozuki tsui no someginu, which tells the story of the double suicide of the husband and wife Yaoya Hanbei and Ochiyo. The jealous mother-in-law forces them to divorce and the lovers see no other solution. In this scene Ochiyo is holding the letter of divorce. Bunchō, a master of nuance, gave the print a touch of melancholy through its lineature and colouration.

Provenance: Blondeau (Sotheby’s, London, 1910); Hamilton Easter Field (New York); R. G. Sawers, London (November 1967)
Riese Collection #39

This handsome print is from a well-known group of early actor prints by Bunchō and Shunshō with the actor’s names added in manuscript. The long narrow box on the bench beside the woman at the left is the shape of a carrying case for a samisen, and it is possible that the young woman is a geisha. The young man is certainly a townsman, and Dr. Hempel has suggested that the paid portray Ochiyo and Hanbei, a husband and wife who commit a double suicide in a play performed at the Nakamura-za Theatre in the spring of 1771.