by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
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 - Terrific portrait of Segawa Tomisaburo II as Yadorigi, the wife of Ogishi Kurando, in the kabuki play "Hana Ayame Bunroku Soga." Her lips tightly pursed, Yadorigi looks ahead with a resolute expression, pulling up the collar of her black outer kimono, which features a design of chrysanthemums, over an orange under robe. Her hair is pulled back into a large bun, with lovely handling to show the transparency of the comb. A handsome Sharaku design with the warm red tones of the kimono contrasting beautifully with the distressed mica background. Published by Kyoto Hanga-in
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 - 15 1/2" x 9 3/4" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Slight toning, a few creases at edges. Please see photos for details. Good overall.