unsigned; musicians and actors on stage at L with audience outdoors, looking on and talking to one another; fence and banners erected behind audience; building at R with men standing and talking behind walls, and others outside sitting and chatting

Okuni Kabuki, first quarter 17th century

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The screen shows a lively theater scene in the entertainment quarter of Kyoto and a performance of female courtesans also dressed as men. The performance shows “Tea House Entertainments” (chaya asobi) and could therefore relate to Izumo no Okuni whose most famous skit this was and she is credited as the founder of the Kabuki theater.

Okuni’s performance was a popular subject for screen paintings in the 17th century. In 1629, the shogunal government forbid women as actors as such performances were seen to be a front for illegal prostitution. Young male actors took over but that was then forbidden in 1652 as it was a front for male prostitution, and henceforth men became the sole actors until today.

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Exhibitions
Details
Title
Okuni Kabuki
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.98
Provenance
S. Yabumoto, Ltd. (until 1956); Leighton R. Longhi (until 2003); Mary Burke (2003-2015)
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 222
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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unsigned; musicians and actors on stage at L with audience outdoors, looking on and talking to one another; fence and banners erected behind audience; building at R with men standing and talking behind walls, and others outside sitting and chatting