This portrait depicts Fujikawa Mizuemon, the antagonist of “The Iris Soga Story of the Bunroku Period (hana ayame omoino kanzashi)”, performed at the Miyako-za Theater in May 1794 (Kansei 6). Fujikawa Mizuemon was famous as the meanest antagonist among kabuki kyogen plays. Sharaku illustrates this character impressively; this is one of his most excellent half-body portraits. The simple color tone consolidates this portrait: the gray kimono, the black in the collar, and the deep green in the cuffs. Illustrating the portrait with so few colors creates an excellent effect and represents Sharaku’s technique, of which this portrait is a good example. Another highlight of this portrait is the depiction of the face. Hangoro’s face is strange, dreadful, and impressive, and practically sticks out of the frame, making us feel as though the character is coming towards us. The black line around the eye adds to the antagonist’s atmosphere.
Hangoro Sakata III was recognized as the highest rank of antagonist at that time. His former name was Kumajuro Bando. He took the name of Hangoro III in May 1783 (Tenmei 3). The year 1794 was the 13th anniversary of the death of Hangoro II; therefore, they performed this kyogen play as a tribute to Hangoro II’s most famous performance. Unfortunately, Hangoro III died in June of the next year at the age of 39. His ambitions never came true.