Benevolence: Actor as Danshichi Kurobei

by Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)

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Benevolence: Actor as Danshichi Kurobei by Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)

Original Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863) Japanese Woodblock Print
Benevolence: Actor as Danshichi Kurobei

A Fuji Arts Special Offer Auction

Osaka Prints - Produced in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kyoto, Osaka prints or kamigata-e are instantly distinguishable from typical Edo ukiyo-e. A major difference is the choice of subject matter. Osaka prints were nearly always portraits of actors or kabuki scenes. In contrast, Edo print subjects included beauties, landscapes, nature scenes, warriors, and historic events, in addition to kabuki.

Distinctly different artistic styles also emerged in Edo and Osaka in the 18th and 19th century, resulting in certain recognizable characteristics for each area. Osaka prints feature more subtle, serious figures, reflecting the wagoto or soft style of acting prevalent in the area, along with distinctive facial expressions. The aragato or brash manner of acting popular in Edo influenced print designs towards bolder images of heroism and military prowess.

Much like the style of the prints, the demand for ukiyo-e in the cities of Osaka and Edo also varied. Osaka produced far fewer ukiyo-e designs than Edo did. As a consequence, Osaka prints are rarer and also some of the highest quality prints made in the 19th century, with many featuring deluxe techniques such as burnishing or embossing. Osaka prints are a rare and wonderful collecting area of Japanese woodblocks.

Special detail - We've seen another version of this same print by Hirosada which features Nakamura Utaemon IV as Danshichi Kurobei, but that image has a tattoo on the arms and upper chest only, and has a single red cartouche to the right of the figure instead of the three cartouches on this print. The character in the red block at upper right means "benevolence," which is one of the Five Virtues of Confucius, suggesting that this print might be from a series of that subject.

Artist - Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)

Image Size - 9 1/2" x 6 5/8"

Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Backed with paper. Slight separation along vertical centerfold, losses at corners, a few holes, repaired. Wrinkling and creasing, slight soiling, ink mark. Please see photos for details.

Benevolence: Actor as Danshichi Kurobei by Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)
Benevolence: Actor as Danshichi Kurobei by Attributed to Hirosada (active circa 1847 - 1863)

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