Osaka Prints - Produced in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kyoto, Osaka prints or kamigata-e are instantly distinguishable from typical Edo ukiyo-e. A major difference is the choice of subject matter. Osaka prints were nearly always portraits of actors or kabuki scenes. In contrast, Edo print subjects included beauties, landscapes, nature scenes, warriors, and historic events, in addition to kabuki.
Distinctly different artistic styles also emerged in Edo and Osaka in the 18th and 19th century, resulting in certain recognizable characteristics for each area. Osaka prints feature more subtle, serious figures, reflecting the wagoto or soft style of acting prevalent in the area, along with distinctive facial expressions. The aragato or brash manner of acting popular in Edo influenced print designs towards bolder images of heroism and military prowess.
Much like the style of the prints, the demand for ukiyo-e in the cities of Osaka and Edo also varied. Osaka produced far fewer ukiyo-e designs than Edo did. As a consequence, Osaka prints are rarer and also some of the highest quality prints made in the 19th century, with many featuring deluxe techniques such as burnishing or embossing. Osaka prints are a rare and wonderful collecting area of Japanese woodblocks.
Comments - Handsome depiction of three actors greeting the audience before a performance at the Naka Theater in Osaka. Most unusually, the figures in the flower shaped insets are members of the kabuki fan club Sakura-ren. Each wears a hat with the character for hana or flower on it, and holds wooden clappers like those used to signal the opening and closing of the stage curtain and other important moments. From left, the actors are Nakamura Tamashichi I, Nakayama Nanshi II, and Nakamura Utaemon IV. A fascinating subject. A rare design.
Artist - Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)
Image Size - 9 3/4" x 22 1/8"
Condition - This print with good detail as shown. Three separate panels, two panels backed with paper. Vertical fold at side. Small losses and tears, repaired. Slight curling, a few stains. Please see photos for details.
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