“Comparing Pictures” 色競畫
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This album contains twenty-one sets of multicoloured woodblock prints all produced in the 1870s by the ukiyo-e print designer TOYOHARA Kunichika 豊原国周 (1835-1900). Compiled or previously owned by an unknown individual by the name of Nishimura, the album carries the title of “Comparing Pictures” 色競畫 on its cover. Contained within are nineteen yakusha-e 役者絵 (kabuki actor print) triptychs featuring actors such as Ichikawa Danjurō IX 九代目市川團十郎 (1838-1903), Iwai Hanshirō VIII 八代目岩井半四郎 (1829-1882) and Ichikawa Sadanji 市川左団次 (1842-1904) among others as they appeared in a variety of kabuki plays. Only two of the nineteen triptychs are incomplete. Also included in the album are five of eight prints from a set called “Beauties Matched with Eight Views of Restaurants” 見立会席八景. These prints were used as advertisements for well-known restaurants and feature famed geisha associated with each individual establishment. Another print triptych, unique in the album, contains six prominent kabuki actors dressed in the guise of six immortal poems of the Heian period (794-1185). All prints are characterized by a vibrant coloration produced by newly introduced synthetic pigments.