An All Star Show of Three Plays

An All Star Show of Three Plays

Object Title:

An All Star Show of Three Plays

Series Title:

Newly Published Perspective Pictures


c. 1770s


Kitao Masayoshi


Unknown (Japanese Art)


Unknown (Japanese Art)


Iwatoya Kisaburö, Eirindö


Color woodblock print Technique: Benizuri-e (Rose-printed print)

Credit Line:

Gift of James A. Michener, 1991 (24614)

Object Number:


Other Title:

Kanji : 三芝居顔見世狂言之図 Series Kanji : 新版浮画


This print depicts a kabuki theater, with actors onstage. This is one of many surviving prints of this type, because kabuki plays and their actors were enormously popular during the 18th century. The print provides a good view of the interior of an 18th-century theater and its audience. Hanging above the stage are a group of lanterns; these are decorated with the family crests (mon) of the leading kabuki actors of the day. (from Uki-e exhibition 2004: June-August) ALT TEXT This print shows the crowded interior of a Kabuki theater during a "kaomise," literally, "face-showing" performance. Such performances introduced young actors in highlight scenes, and also gave established ones the chance to try new roles, or to celebrate a change in name or status. Kabuki enjoyed enormous popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and kaomise performances gave fans an opportunity to speculate about the upcoming season of complete plays or to gossip about the ups and downs of individual performers. As the packed audience in this print implies, kaomise was not to be missed. (2008)