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Actor As Prince Inafune Standing Beneath a Maple Tree - panel of a triptych

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Actor As Prince Inafune Standing Beneath a Maple Tree - panel of a triptych

ca. 1850
19th Century
14 in. x 9 3/4 in. (35.56 cm x 24.77 cm)

Utagawa Kunisada, Japanese, (1786–1864)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Medium and Support: Color woodcut on paper
Credit Line: Found in Collection
Accession Number: 1980.21.17
Kunisada’s print of a beautiful woman posed elegantly under a maple tree is an excellent example of way ukiyo-e artists portrayed the ideal woman. The subject in the print, in fact, is not a female courtesan or a lady of the high court, but rather an actor from the kabuki theater scene. Because kabuki theater strictly banned women from the stage, men were required to dress for the female roles. These actors, called onnagata (female figures), dressed in their feminine attire and makeup not only on the stage, but off it and in their daily lives as well. Many doubled as elite courtesans for men who could afford their company, and as a result of their lifestyle, they were the subject of many ukiyo-e portrait prints. The onnagata actors depicted the idealized woman through the male gaze, and because of this they were often more “perfect” than the perfect woman.

--Zana Ito, December 2014

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Dimensions
  • Sheet Dimensions: 14 in. x 9 3/4 in. (35.56 cm x 24.77 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:


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