Utagawa Toyokuni
The Actors Arashi Sanpachi and Bandō Mitsugorō II (Ogino Isaburō II)

Signed: Toyokuni ga; Publisher’s seal: Eijudō and logo (Nishimuraya Yohachi); censor’s seal: kiwame; ōban, 37.9 x 25.2 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

The actor Arashi Sanpachi as Genpachirō, on the right, and Bandō Mitsugorō II as Wada Shinbei, on the left, are fighting over a scroll containing a secret treatise on the art of war by Kusunoki Masashige (1294–1336) in a scene from a drama staged in 1798 entitled Hana-yagura tachibana keizu (“The Blossom Watchtower, Family Tree of the Tachibana”). The print is from an untitled series of double portraits with actors depicted in full length against dark backgrounds.

Hayashi Tadamasa
Riese Collection #99

The two samurai have entered the service of rival lords and disguised themselves as eji, personal servants and body guards, in order to gain possession of the scroll they are here struggling over, a scroll which Dr. Hempel identifies as Kusonoki Masashige’s secret treaties on the art of war. Sanpachi’s role is written with characters which would normally be read Genpachi Masauji, but a fuller name with phonetic spelling for the last character is given in the theatrical records of the play, and since common characters can be read in such divergent ways, the documentary record has been followed.
The print is from an untitled series of double portraits of actors standing full-length against grey or grey-and-black backgrounds which was begun by Eijudō shortly after Toyokuni stopped designing the full length portraits, mainly of single actors, for the Actors on Stage series published by Eijudō less successful rival, Senichi.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 86