This is a portrait of Gorobe Sakanaya, appearing in the Kiriza Theater production of “A Medley of Tales of Revenge (katakiuchi noriaibanashi)” in May 1794 (Kansei 6). His role was that of the chivalrous fish dealer who helped the Takagino and Shinobu sisters, the daughters of Matsushita Tsukurizakayashin. Gorobe assisted them with seeking revenge against their parents’ nemesis, Daishichi Shiga. In this portrait, the wide black collar of the padded kimono is the main, basic color block of the image. Other colors are the small areas of green around the cuff and the yellow and crimson of the smoking pipe. The rest of the padded kimono, mostly a deep purple color, contrasts with the black. Along with the biotite in dark color in the background, the small areas of bright color appearing like dots have a pleasant impact on the screen. This color sensitivity is unique to Sharaku.
Koshiro Matsumoto IV was the best actor during the 1780-1800s (Tenmei – Kansei), due to his appearance, voice, and eloquence. He was a quiet person, but once he opened his mouth, he had a character that always made people laugh. Also, people said he often played characters with his face painted white. Sharaku skillfully recognized and depicted his character and appearance well, as proven by the soft lines of the hand inserted into the left cuff, the softly drawn line from the left shoulder to the hand that is holding the smoking pipe, and the bright red shadow around the eyes. Koshiro IV was originally an onnagata (a male actor who played female roles in kabuki) in the school of Kikunozyo Segawa, but left to take the name of Danjuro IV. He was renamed Somegoro, Koraiya, and finally became Koshiro. He died in 1802 (Kyowa 2) at the age of 66.