Fine printing from the respected Tokyo publisher Oedo Mokuhansha - These classic designs were produced by the well known Tokyo publisher Oedo Mokuhansha amidst a resurgence of interest in ukiyo-e. Like many of these traditional businesses, the woodblock print craft was passed down through generations, and the Oedo Mokuhansha company was formed by descendents of an Edo era publisher. These are nice prints of the highest quality standards and an excellent choice if you are looking for fine old woodblock reprints.
Sharaku - Not much is known about the woodblock print artist Toshusai Sharaku, who specialized in kabuki portraits. His career spanned only ten months from 1794 to 1795, with around 150 prints known. Unlike his contemporaries, Sharaku did not idealize his subjects, instead creating realistic portrayals that were not always flattering, and his prints were not a popular success at the time. His best works convey a rare perceptivity, with a psychological insight and a deep understanding of the dramatic nature of the roles and the actors he depicted. Sharaku left behind a body of masterworks of ukiyo-e kabuki portraiture that remained unrecognized until a century after his death.
Comments - Incredible Sharaku double portrait from the kabuki play "Katakiuchi Noriai Banashi." Nakamura Konozo portrays the boatman Kanagawaya no Gon, and Nakajima Wadaemon appears as Bodara no Chozaemon. The boatman has just delivered his customer to a brothel, and he carries a small wooden chest, used to hold the belongings of passengers. The pair presents a marvelous contrast, with the short, heavy, pug-nosed boatman next to the taller, thinner, more angular man, who appears anxious and distraught next to his stolid companion. Fine shimmering mica background.
Woodblock reprints - In the 20th century, artists and publishers collaborated to recreate famous woodblock prints for interested Japanese collectors and Westerners looking for rare designs. New blocks were made, and the prints were painstakingly printed by artisan printers in the same method as the 19th century originals - one block for each color. Woodblock reprints were an opportunity to collect and enjoy a famous design at a small fraction of the price of an original. They still are today.
Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Image Size - 14 7/8" x 9 5/8" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Please see photos for details. Nice overall.