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 Sharaku portrait of the actor Sawamura Sojuro III in the role of Ogishi Kurando in the play "Hana Ayame Bunroku Soga." He looks ahead stoically over a large golden fan, his eyes wide and eyebrows raised, lips tightly pursed, giving him a concerned expression. He wears a soft rose kimono with a pale tan collar, his shaven head and chin shaded in the same pale tan tone. The swirling pattern on the fan adds a sense of movement that contrasts with the quietness of the figure. A handsome design with an attractive silver 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 paper remnants on reverse at top edge from previous mounting. A couple small creases, faint spot. Please see photos for details.