The Actor Ichikawa Ebizo III as Matsuomaru in the play Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy


Artist: Katsukawa Shunkō 勝川春好 (1743-1812)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 18th century
Color, lacquer black, and slight gold on silk
H x W: 58.7 x 26.8 cm (23 1/8 x 10 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, theater, ukiyo-e

To 1898
Edward S. Hull Jr., New York to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Edward S. Hull Jr. in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 186, pg. 41, as well as Voucher No. 38, November 1898, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Edward S. Hull Jr. was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa’s (1853-1908) lawyer. Hull often acted as an agent, facilitating purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa, as well as purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa's well-known associate, Bunshichi Kobayashi (see correspondence, Hull to Freer, 1898-1900, as well as invoices from E.S. Hull Jr., 1898-1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives). See also, Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pgs. 15 and 34. See further, Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, Freer: A Legacy of Art, (Washington, D.C. and New York: Freer Gallery of Art and H. N. Abrams, 1993), pgs. 133-134.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Edward S. Hull Jr. (C.L. Freer source)


The kabuki play Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy (Sugawara denju tenarai kagami) relates the story of Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), a courtier and calligrapher who died in exile due to maneuvers by his enemies at court. Here the actor Ichikawa Ebizo III (formerly Ichikawa Danjuro IV, 1712-1778) plays Matsuomaru, a samurai attendant to Fujiwara no Tokijira (871-909), one of the courtiers who plotted against Michizane. With his features fixed in a menacing stare, the actor strikes a pose in a scene of confrontation. The actor wears a courtier's hat and carries a tall umbrella covered with a white case.

Published References
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 68, pp. 184-187.
  • Elisabeth West FitzHugh. A Pigment Census of Ukiyo-e Paintings in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 11 Washington and Ann Arbor, 1979. pp. 27-38.
  • Shizuya Fujikaka. Ukiyoe no kenkyu (Study on Ukiyoe). 3 vols., Tokyo. pl. 246.
  • Harold P. Stern Narasaki Muneshige. Ukiyo-e shuka. vol. 16, Tokyo. pl. 41.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum