Katsukawa Shunshō
Ichimura Uzaemon IX in the Shibaraku Scene
1778, 11th month

Signed: Shunshō ga; hosoban, 33.0 x 13.9 cm; nishiki-e

The en-face depiction here is unusual. The cloak is not the usual rust red, but rather black, and the sleeves do not display the tachibana family crest, visible on the theatre curtains, but rather a lightning pattern (inazuma-mon), which has been adapted to the square mimasu-mon of the Ichikawa family, underlining the aggressive expression in its angularity. Uzaemon IX appeared in this costume at the

Provenance: F. Succo; A. Lemp, Zurich (October 1969)
Riese Collection #42

The Shibaraku role was the property of the Ichikawa clan of kabuki actors, so when actors of other families wished to perform the role they were obliged to fulfil certain conditions, most conspicuous of which was the wearing of the traditional costume with its large square sleeves, its trailing trousers, the peculiar wig, makeup and headdress, and a long oversized sword. The Ichikawa clan required that its own crest, three large concentric squares, should appear on the large sleeves which the actor carried upraised like banners as he made his entrance. In this performance, Uzaemon took two extraordinary liberties. He wore a solid black kimono instead of the traditional brick-red associated with the role, and for the crest he used his own “whirlpool” device, simply squaring the edges to make it resemble the Ichikawa mon. The theatre crest on the curtain behind him is also the family crest of the Ichimura clan, and as Uzaemon stands before it he seems to be glowering a challenge and defiance to the Ichikawas, who were the leading actors of their day. But a challenge is not a triumph. Uzaemon IX died in 1785 and aötjpigj a 14th descendant bears the name to this day, the family never regained the glory that the old man longed for and felt they deserved.
Another impression which seems to be somewhat earlier is reproduced in W. Boller, Masterpieces of the Japanese Colour Woodcut, p. 63, and is now in the Rietberg Museum, Zürich.

Reproduced in F. Succo. Katsukawa Shunshō, pl. 33.
Riese, Asiatische Studien, 1972, p. 89, no. 14 (colour)