Shini-e - Literally meaning "death prints," shini-e are a category of Japanese woodblock commemorating the death of a famous kabuki actor, or less commonly, an artist or musician. These memorial portraits often depict the actor dressed in light blue death robes, or portraying a famous role associated with the individual. Some include verses or death poems along with the actor's age and date of death, or a posthumous Buddhist name. Other conventional iconography includes lotus blossoms or petals, incense burners, and prayer beads. The tragic suicide of Ichikawa Danjuro VIII in 1854 at the age of thirty-two resulted in nearly 200 shini-e of the actor. Some shini-e are recycled from earlier kabuki prints with the background blocks recut so they could be rushed into production. Most shini-e are unsigned, although some include the artist's signature. These designs are an interesting area of collecting.
Comments - Fine shini-e or memorial portrait of Ichikawa Danjuro IX as a nobleman sitting in a field, his eyes tightly closed. He wears a white tunic patterned with leaves over blue pants, and a black court cap. His sword is at his side, and he holds a riding crop in his other hand. A moving, expressive figure, beautifully detailed with delicate cloth embossing on the tunic and burnishing in the black cap.
Artist - Toshihide (1863 - 1925)
Image Size - 14 1/4" x 9 3/8" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. A couple creases at edges and stains. Please see photos for details.
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