Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I and Peony Flowers


Title Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I and Peony Flowers
Artist Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) 歌川国貞 (三代目豊国) (1786–1865)
Date 9/1860
Publisher Hayashiya Shōgorō 林屋庄五郎
City Edo
Signature Toyokuni ga 豊国画
Censorship seal(s) aratame, Aap 9 改申九
Publisher’s seal(s) Shō 庄

わか木にはあれとさかりのなとり草牡丹は春の花のおや玉 桐の屋

Wakagi ni wa / are to sakari no / natori kusa / botan wa haru no / hana no oyadama

Starting as just a young budding sprout, it blossoms into an awe-inspiring thicket– The peony is the king of spring flowers

Technique & material Woodblock print; full colour print; pigment on paper
Format ōban
Width 24.7
Height 36. 1 cm
Object number SH2018-DM-016
Credit Line Gift of Muck and Mieke Douma
Provenance Gifted to the Japan Museum SieboldHuis in April 2018 by Muck and Mieke Douma


This print is from a set of three portraits of actors paired with flowers. Here Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I is paired with peony flowers. The other two prints are of Nakamura Fusuke I with a plum blossom and Sawamura Tanosuke III with chrysanthemums. The prints are characterized by poems that relate to the paired flower, inscribed within cartouches in the shape of the actors’ personal crests. Gonjūrō I is not portraying any particular role here, but he is depicted wearing casual clothing while holding a tobacco pipe. A silhouette of a stone lantern (ishi-dōro) can be seen on his right side. The dark leaves of the peony are printed with a shiny black pigment, and Gonjūrō I’s towel is printed with a slight relief pattern (karazuri).