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 - Wonderful reprint of this Sharaku masterwork. A fantastic design of Matsumoto Yonesaburo as the beauty Shinobu in the drama "Katakiuchi Noriai Banashi." She and her sister have sworn to avenge the murder of their father. She looks over her shoulder with a slight smile, a slender pipe in her hand. The black obi is beautifully detailed with a delicate burnished pattern of cranes with outstretched wings and clouds against a geometric design, forming a striking contrast with the softly colored tie-dyed kimono. A lovely subject with a distressed 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 3/4" x 9 3/4" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Slight toning, a few spots and creases. Please see photos for details. Good overall.