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.
Oedo Mokuhansha - These classic designs were produced by the well known Tokyo publisher Oedo Mokuhansha amidst a resurgence of interest in ukiyo-e in the early 1950s. Like many of these traditional businesses, the woodblock print craft was passed down through generations, and the Oedo Mokuhansha company was formed by descendents of an Edo era publisher. These are nice prints of the highest quality standards and an excellent choice if you are looking for fine old woodblock reprints.
Comments - Fantastic portrait of Ichikawa Ebizo (formerly Ichikawa Danjuro V) as Takemura Sadanoshin in the kabuki play "Koi Nyobo Somewake Tazuna." Sadanoshin was engaged by a nobleman as a Noh drama instructor, but he was dismissed over the misconduct of his daughter Shigenoi, who served as a lady's maid and wet-nurse. He takes the dishonor to his family so seriously that while giving his master final instruction in the famous Noh play "Dojoji," he commits suicide while hiding under the temple bell. He looks forward with a slightly anxious expression, his eyes wide and eyebrows raised, the open corner of his upraised lips showing the inside of his mouth. He clasps his hands nervously before him, as if about to make a great pronouncement. The warms colors of his robe and kamishimo contrast nicely with the distressed mica ground. A real Sharaku masterwork.
Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Image Size - 15" x 10 1/8" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Slight paper remnants on reverse at left edge from previous mounting. A few creases, mica dust in margins. Please see photos for details.