Roger Keyes, Sharaku, portraits d'acteurs (Paris: Huguette Berès, 1980), pl. 17
Chozaemon is the client of a brothel and Gon is a boatman who has accompanied him. Although neither the exact roles or the relationship between Chozaemon and Gon have been defined fully, because Gon is illustrated in a previous scene in a theatre program (Ehon banzuke), he is possibly more important to the drama than his role would imply.
This double portrait is considered to be one of Sharaku's masterpieces. Why he chose to illustrate two minor actors (Wadaemon earned less than one-tenth of the salary of the star actor of this time, Segawa Kikunojo III) in two minor parts has not been explained.
The earliest impressions of Sharaku's mica background okubi-e [large-head portraits] are thought to be those with dark grey mica backgrounds. The second impressions have silver mica backgrounds. The second state of this portrait has two variants: one has hand-applied kumadori make-up on Wadaemon's face, the other does not.
For examples with make-up see:
Yoshida, Vol. 14, "Sharaku, Toyokuni", Ukiyo-e taika shusei (Tokyo: Taihokaku, 1931), pl. 3; Suzuki, Sharaku (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1968), pl. 16; Yamaguchi, "Sharaku", Ukiyo-e taikei, Vol. 7 (Tokyo: Shueisha, 1973), pl. 17; Hillier, Japanese Prints and Drawings from the Vever Collection, Vol. 2 (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1976), pl. 597; Lane, Images from the Floating World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), no. 588; Narazaki and Yamaguchi, "British Museum", Ukiyo-e shuka, Vol. 11 (Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1979), pl. 6; Keyes, Sharaku, portraits d'acteurs (Paris: Huguette Berès, 1980); Narazaki, Sharaku, The Enigmatic Ukiyo-e Master (Tokyo, New York and San Francisco: Kodansha International Ltd., 1983), pl. 6; Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in The Collection of The Ota Memorial Museum of Art (Tokyo: Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 1988), pl. 95; Narazaki, "British Museum II", Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1988), no. 158; Narazaki, "Musée Guimet, Paris, I", Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1990), pl. 179; Yamaguchi, "Sharaku", Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e, Vol. 5 (Tokyo: Gyosei, 1991), pl. 17; Yamaguchi, Sharaku no zembo (Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki, 1994), pl. 17-b; Keyes et al, Dai Sharaku ten (Tokyo: Tobu Museum of Art/NHK, 1995), pl. 17
For examples without make-up see:
Vignier and Inada, Kiyonaga, Buncho, Sharaku... Et Exposées au Musée des Arts Décoratifs en Février 1909, reprinted in 2 vols., (Geneva: Minkoff Reprint, 1973), pl. LXXVI, no. 286; Yoshida, Ukiyo-e taisei, Vol. 8 (Tokyo: Toho Shoin, 1931), no. 43; Ledoux, Japanese Prints, Sharaku to Toyokuni, in the Collection of Louis V. Ledoux (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), pl. 21; Donald Jenkins, The Ledoux Heritage: The Collecting of Ukiyo-e Master Prints (New York: Japan Society, 1973), no. 45; Yamaguchi, Sharaku no zembo (Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki, 1994), pl. 17-a
Keyes notes that there are twenty-five impressions of this image known and that thirteen are held in the following museums and institutions:
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Bruxelles; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Art Institute, Chicago; Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln; Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone, Genoa; Academy of Arts, Honolulu; British Museum, London; Asia Society Galleries, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée Guimet, Paris; National Museum, Tokyo; Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tokyo