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Shunei (1762 - 1819)

Kabuki Actor Kataoka Nizaemon VII

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1796
Size (H x W): 11.25 x 5.25 (inches)
Publisher: Hoeido (Enomotoya Kichibei)
Seals: Vever seal
Provenance: Vever
Signature: Shunei ga
Condition: Very good color and impression, light soiling and wear.

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The Art Institute of Chicago suggests that this print could depict Kataoka Nizaemon VII as Hayakawa Matabei in a production of the play "Furiwake-gami Aoyagi Soga," staged at the Miyako Theater during this first month of 1796.

Other impressions of this print can be found in the National Diet Library, Tokyo, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

About the artist

A student of Shunsho, Shunei Katsukawa was a prolific and successful woodblock print artist. Most active from the mid-1780s through the 1790s, his earliest known work is an illustrated book published in 1782. He is credited as one of the first artists to popularize the emerging okubi-e, or “big head,” style portraits. In addition to actor prints, Shunei designed studies of sumo wrestlers. A contemporary of Toyokuni I and Sharaku, Shunei’s prints are distinctive in their active, yet balanced compositions and dramatic flair.