Bando Shuka I as the courtesan Shiraito of Hashimoto-ya
1797 - 1861
Here the kabuki actor Bando Shuka I plays the courtesan Shiraito in the Yoshiwara pleasure district of Edo (Tokyo). The play was first performed in Edo’s Nakamura theatre in 1852. Bando Shuka I was renowned as an onnagata (female role specialist). In kabuki, all roles are usually played by men.
The scene gives a sense of what a pleasure house of the 1850s may have looked like, and the activities that took place. The man rolling up his sleeves is Suzuki Mondo, a samurai bankrupted by his obsession with Shiraito. The figure in the black hood near the centre may represent Suzuki Mondo’s wife, there to attack Shiraito.
Place where the work was made
woodblock print; ink and colour on paper, ōban diptych
35.3 x 49.2 cm :
a - right sheet; 35.1 x 24.5 cm; image
a - right sheet; 35.7 x 25.2 cm; sheet
b - left sheet; 35.3 x 24.7 cm; image
b - left sheet; 35.7 x 25.2 cm; sheet
Signature & date
Signed [right sheet; part a] l.l. [in cartouche], in Japanese, "Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi-ga [and artist's red seal]".
Signed [left sheet; part b] l.r. [in cartouche], in Japanese, "Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi-ga [and artist's red seal]".
Gift of Dr. James Hayes 2003
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–2018