An image of Contemporary tale of the three heroes

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III

(Japan 1786 – 1865)

Contemporary tale of the three heroes

Other titles:
(Tatooed man), Contemporary tale of the three villains
Location
Not on display
Further information

The man in this image is the kabuki actor Kawarasaki Gonjuro (later known as Ichikawa Danjuro IX) playing Liu Bei, one of the three heroes of the Chinese novel 'Romance of the three kingdoms'. His tattoos show peonies and lions, an old design that originated in China. In legend, lions are attracted to peonies which symbolise wealth and power. The peony was also one of Gonjuro's crests. The bats on the fan, an indicator of summer, represent good luck.
The print was designed by Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), who was one of the most popular and prolific ukiyo-e artists at the end of the Edo period.

Place of origin
Japan
Period
Japan: Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615–1868, Ansei era 1854–1860
Year
1860
Media
Print
Medium
woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
Dimensions
35.0 x 24.3 cm
Signature & date

Signed c.l., in Japanese, ink [incised on block] "Toyokuni ga [picture by Toyokuni]".
Not dated.

Credit
Bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993
Accession number
598.1993