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 - Fantastic portrait of the actor Nakayama Tomisaburo in the role of the courtesan Miyagino from the play "Katakiuchi Noriai Banashi." Her father was killed by the villain Shiga Daishichi, and she and her younger sister swore to avenge his death. Here, she holds her hand up to her collar as she looks ahead demurely, a slight smile on her lips and eyebrows raised. The lines of her face are softly rounded, suggesting her youth. She wears a dark blue green kimono over under robes, the collar of one patterned with tie-dyed seashells. A terrific design by Sharaku, with a dark mica background as in the original.
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 1/4" x 10"
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Toning, slight creasing. Please see photos for details.