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.
Takamizawa's Taisho era Reprints - With the increase in Western visitors to Japan in the first quarter of the 20th century and the interest in the Edo era woodblock print tradition, some of the best publishing houses began to release high quality reprints of the most famous ukiyo-e designs. Founded in 1911, the Takamizawa Publisher of Tokyo produced some of the highest quality ukiyo-e woodblock reprints of all time. Drawing on the traditions and methods of the Edo era, the company created reprints with the utmost care and great attention to detail, masterfully reproducing color, line work, and even wood grain detail in some cases.
This print was published during the Taisho era (1911 - 1925), and features a Takamizawa seal on the reverse. Takamizawa's Taisho era prints are considered to be some of the finest reprints ever done. Today, these lovely old prints are sought after by collectors. This is a fantastic early release by Takamizawa and a great choice for a collector interested in classic ukiyo-e images.
Comments - Terrific double portrait of Ichikawa Omezo and Otani Oniji II in a scene from "Nihonmatsu Michinoku Sodachi," a play about the troubles of the Date Clan in the 17th century. Omezo portrays the wrestler Ikazuchi Tsurunosuke and Oniji II plays the faithful samurai Ukiyo Tohei, disguised as a bad man to spy among the Date's enemies. The wrestler leans on one knee, twisting his torso around as he reaches to draw his sword. His companion stands with his back to the viewer, his kimono tucked up at the waist, glaring over his shoulder. An interesting composition with the almost motionless standing figure contrasting with the action of the kneeling man. Nicely detailed with a distressed mica background.
Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Image Size - 15 1/4" x 10 1/4"
Condition - This print with excellent detail as shown. Please see photos for details. Good overall.