Bando Hikosaburo III and Iwai Hanshiro IV

by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

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Bando Hikosaburo III and Iwai Hanshiro IV by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795) Japanese Woodblock Reprint
Bando Hikosaburo III and Iwai Hanshiro IV

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.

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 - Interesting double portrait of Bando Hikosaburo III as Obiya Choemon and Iwai Hanshiro IV as the young beauty Shinanoya O-Han in a scene from the play "Katsuragawa Tsuki-no Omoide." The middle-aged Choemon is a married merchant who falls in love with the teenaged O-Han, and the pair end up committing suicide together in a lover's pact. Here the beauty waves the flowing sleeves of her kimono gracefully as she kneels at her sweetheart's feet. Her kimono features two shades of soft green patterned with iris, tied with a red tie-dyed obi. Choemon stands by silently, frowning down at the girl, his arms firmly crossed and tucked inside the sleeves of his striped kimono. Nicely detailed with soft color and fine line work, and a distressed mica background.

Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

Image Size - 15 1/2" x 9 3/4"

Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Please see photos for details. Good overall.

Bando Hikosaburo III and Iwai Hanshiro IV by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Bando Hikosaburo III and Iwai Hanshiro IV by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)