Memorial Portrait of Nakamura Utaemon IV, 1852

by Edo era artist (unsigned)

Current Status

Memorial Portrait of Nakamura Utaemon IV, 1852 by Edo era artist (unsigned)

Original Edo era Japanese Woodblock Print
Memorial Portrait of Nakamura Utaemon IV, 1852

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.

Artist - Edo era artist (unsigned)

Image Size - 14 1/2" x 9 5/8"

Condition - This print with excellent detail as shown. Slight separation at end of vertical fold at side, repaired. Slight toning and soiling, a few creases. Please see photos for details.

Memorial Portrait of Nakamura Utaemon IV, 1852 by Edo era artist (unsigned)
Memorial Portrait of Nakamura Utaemon IV, 1852 by Edo era artist (unsigned)

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