Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji

by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

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Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795) Japanese Woodblock Reprint
Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji

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.

Publisher - Adachi from a rare series of Edo masterwork designs. Adachi publisher seal in margin or on reverse.

Adachi was one of the most respected publishers of the 20th century. Their woodblocks were printed to the highest standards with excellent color and fine detail. Founded in 1925, Adachi also chose interesting and varied subjects for their prints and was the only publisher of many famous old ukiyo-e images.

Comments - Intriguing double portrait of the actors Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji in the kabuki play. "Koi Nyobo Somewake Tazuna." At left, Kiyotaro plays Fujinami, the wife of the good man Sagisaka Sanai, while at right Bando Zenji portrays O-zasa, the wife of the evil Washizuka Kandayu. Sharaku uses the two women to mirror their husbands' characters, contrasting the good and evil temperaments. Fujinami has a sweet, kindly expression, smiling slightly as she holds her hand modestly to her chest. O-zasa seems almost to leer over her shoulder, with a broad, tightly lipped grin and her chin thrust forward. A fascinating subject with a lovely silver mica background.

Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

Image Size - 15 3/8" x 9 3/4" + margins as shown

Condition - Excellent overall with no issues to report.

Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Iwai Kiyotaro and Bando Zenji by Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)